Just Life

A Timbered Choir | Third Sunday.

Another Sunday morning comes

And I resume the standing Sabbath
Of the woods, where the finest blooms
Of time return, and where no path
Is worn but wears its makers out
At last, and disappears in leaves
Of fallen seasons. The tracked rut
Fills and levels; here nothing grieves
In the risen season. Past life
Lives in the living. Resurrection
Is in the way each maple leaf
Commemorates its kind, by connection
Outreaching understanding. What rises
Rises into comprehension
And beyond. Even falling raises
In praise of light. What is begun
Is unfinished. And so the mind 
That comes to rest among the bluebells
Comes to rest in motion, refined
By alteration. The bud swells, 
Opens, makes seed, falls, is well,
Being becoming what it is:
Miracle and parable
Exceeding thought, because it is
Immeasurable; the understander
Encloses understanding, thus
Darkens the light. We can stand under
No ray that is not dimmed by us.
The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.
Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.
– 1979, II (p. 6)

(This Sunday series is inspired by Wendell Berry’s A Timbered Choir.)

7 Comments

  • Bonny

    This one is interesting and I'm going to have to do some rereading and prolonged pondering. I especially like the lines "The mind that comes to rest is tended In ways that it cannot intend" and your lovely photos.

  • AsKatKnits

    What a perfect verse for those photos! Especially the last stanza – "Our only choice should be to die Into that rest, our out of it." I can hear the trees clearing singing and they have indeed earned that rest. Thank you for sharing!

  • Vera

    Hi Mary, I read this last night on my phone and now just again. What a beautiful, moving poem. I'm so glad you are doing these Timbered Sundays. They are amazing. And your photos are gorgeous. Thank you.