Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hope and the Places That Heal You

By Wendell Berry

It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old,
For hope must not depend on feeling good
And there is the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight.
You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality
Of the future, which surely will surprise us,
…...And hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction
Any more than by wishing. But stop dithering.
The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them?
Tell them at least what you say to yourself.

Because we have not made our lives to fit
Our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,
The streams polluted, the mountains overturned. Hope
Then to belong to your place by your own knowledge
Of what it is that no other place is, and by
Your caring for it as you care for no other place, this
Place that you belong to though it is not yours,
For it was from the beginning and will be to the end

Belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are
Your neighbors in it: the old man, sick and poor,
Who comes like a heron to fish in the creek,
And the fish in the creek, and the heron who manlike
Fishes for the fish in the creek, 
and the birds who sing
In the trees in the silence of the fisherman
And the heron, and the trees that keep the land
They stand upon as we too must keep it or die.

……Be still and listen to the voices that belong
To the streambanks and the trees and the open fields.
There are songs and sayings that belong to this place,
By which it speaks for itself and no other.

Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground
Underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls
Freely upon it after the darkness of the nights
And the darkness of our ignorance and madness.
Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,
Which is the light of imagination. By it you see
The likeness of people in other places to yourself
In your place. It lights invariably the need for care
Toward other people, other creatures, in other places
As you would ask them for care toward your place and you.

No place is at last better than the world. The world
Is no better than its places. Its places at last
Are no better than their people while their people
Continue in them. When the people make
Dark the light within them, the world darkens.

***   ***   ***

In these gloomy times, when it is difficult to hold onto hope, this poem speaks to us about what is solid beneath our feet: the world, our place in it, where we put our roots down, the place on the planet where our hearts belong.

For your challenge, write a poem about the landscape you love, the places that heal you, the ones you call you home. Where do you go to replenish your stores of hope? What does the land sing to you while you are there?

Use specifics to make the place come alive for us. Through your words, let us see what you see, feel what you feel while you are there. Show us how you care for this place, and how this caring expands to concern for all places, all beings.

Tell us what you take away with you when you leave, and how your special place on the planet allows you to keep hope alive, for the world and its many creatures.

No rules: use any form you wish. Just sing a love song about the place that means the most.

Then link up. And please do visit the offerings of your fellow poets. I look forward to reading some poems of love for this beautiful planet, and the place on it that you call home.


Kerry O'Connor said...

Hope is sorely needed in these times.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Wow! I can't believe we have reached day eight❤️ sigh.. your prompt made me very emotional, Sherry. Just posted. I am at work, will be back later to read and comment. Thank you for the lovely opportunity❤️

brudberg said...

Hello all friends. As most of you have heard there has been a likely terrorist attach in the middle of Stockholm. As it happened we were still at work, but we were scheduled for a concert right next to where the attack happened. Had it happened a few hours later we would have been in the middle of the accident.

I will be absent from blogging for two weeks now... but it's a planned vacation and nothing else. Stay safe and grow with hope.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Bjorn, that is too close for comfort, my friend. These are perilous times. I hope you are escaping to the wild, for some healing.

I am looking forward to reading about all of your places of the heart. How the land loves us, even while we have gone so far astray.

Anonymous said...

Too close indeed Bjorn. Glad you are safe and well. Enjoy your two weeks vacation.My wife was visiting London with her school children ( 60 of them) when that attack happened and for a while I could not get her on the phone. It turned out they were in the Houses of Parliament under lockdown. Strange and crazy times we live in.

The prompt is the prefect one for me and I had planned to do just that today. Go and be with the land.My poem therefore can wait for this one will be written by hand in my notebook whilst I am on the land. Poem and photos to follow later in the day. Go well all.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Bjorn, you were in my thoughts yesterday, with deepest condolences to those affected by yet another senseless attack on innocent lives. Fate and extraordinary circumstances aside, I do wish you safe travels.

Susie Clevenger said...

Thank you Sherry. Lately my thoughts have spent a lot of time with the little girl inside me and the home that taught me so many things.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Paul, I look forward to your poem. In these times, we find our solace in being with the land. She is so generous, even while we are desecrating her.

Thank you, friends, for your heartfelt poems today. When I wrote the prompt, I had no idea how appropriate it would be on this particular day.

Stacie Eirich said...

Sherry, this is beautiful prompt and I want so much to respond to it. As I am with my children today, this may not be immediately possible, but will hope for some inspirational time outdoors to ponder this. Have a lovely weekend! -Stacie

Stacie Eirich said...

Oh Bjorn, I just read your comment and yes - I was so saddened to hear & read of the Stockholm attack yesterday. I have Swedish friends living & working here, and they were stunned and saddened as well. So glad you & your family are safe, and may you get the respite you need. -Stacie

Anonymous said...

Long day's walking and contemplating and now a long poem. Really good prompt Sherry.Got me digging deep.

Gillena Cox said...

Good Saturday afternoon, Saw the sad TV news about the recent terrorist hit, sad for the people of Stockholm.

Enjoy your vacation Bjorn .

much love...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Thank you, friends, for taking part and writing so beautifully about your chosen landscapes. I so enjoyed reading each one.

The Bizza said...

It does feel like the world is coming undone. This is a timely prompt.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

I don't have to go far to find my healing place!

(Please someone tell me if the font at my blog is still too tiny. It never was to my view, so I'm not sure if I've fixed it.)

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

OH – just scrolled back and read earlier comments. Very relieved for you, Bjorn and Paul.