This prayer returned today. It’s from Wendell Berry’s collection of Sabbath poems, from the book “Given.”
Teach me work that honours Thy work,
the true economies of goods and words,
to make my arts compatible
with the songs of local birds.
Teach me patience beyond work
and, beyond patience, the blest
Sabbath of Thy unresting love
which lights all things and gives rest.
Cold rain, the repose of late flowering lilies, leaves gathering on the ground, the cocoon of today’s coat, the one I haven’t worn since last winter—and it’s easy to sense the coming season of dormancy.
Weather still prescribes: familiar signs outlining a form, usually leaving us to fill it in. And through the day, it’s an item we contend with more than listen to.
Too often it’s an outside-object I either resent or ignore. Too often, I have not made myself available to the signals, or compatible to its primeval messengers. For this, one seems to need a discipline. Something like a Sabbath.
I have friends who practice the Sabbath. They bookmark that weekly stretch of time as best they can, and rest—rest emphatically, intentionally. I imagine it, a mindful dormancy.
It’s a way too, I suspect, to be taught patience. At least to see the necessity of moving with patience, toward ourselves and with others, without which the rooms of our lives fill with flies.
And it’s a path, perhaps, for going beyond patience to a deeper rest—a place of mental rest and repose—that has no quarrel with recreation but simply waits for it to abate, so something can shine into the darkness, and the darkness may comprehend it.
Buried within us is a natural grace, a rhythm we once plainly shared with birds, grasses, leaves. A rhythm that keeps our antennae up to the tempo of moons, the songs of seasons, the liturgy of solstice. And keeps us in wonder at the impossibility of everything around us. The kind of wonder that plays on the porch of eternity, at the doorstep of Love.