Month: July 2016

#HateComesOffInSlices

Looking back now, after so long a time, the hardest knowledge I have is of the people I have known who have been most lonely: Troy Chatham and Cecelia Overhold, the one made lonely by ambition, the other by anger, and both by pride clambering upward over its rubble.

The problem, you see, is that Cecelia had some reason on her side; she had an argument. I don’t think she could be proved right; on the other hand, you can’t prove her wrong. Theoretically, there is always a better place for a person to live, better work to do, a better spouse to wed, better friends to have. But then this person must meet herself coming back: Theoretically, there always is a better inhabitant of this place, a better member of this community, a better worker, spouse, and friend than she is. This surely describes one of the circles of Hell, and who hasn’t traveled around it a time or two?

People generally suppose that they don’t understand one another very well, and that is true; they don’t. But some things they communicate easily and fully. Anger and contempt and hatred leap from one heart to another like fire in dry grass. The revelations of love are never complete or clear, not in this world. Love is slow and accumulating, and no matter how large or high it grows, it falls short. Love comprehends the world, though we don’t comprehend it. But hate comes off in slices, clear and whole — self-explanitory, you might say. You can hate people completely and kill them in an instant.”

~Wendell Berry, in Jayber Crow

Love is slow and accumulating, it takes a lifetime to build trust, to feel safe, known, seen, and loved for who we are, and to know, see, and love others.  But anger, contempt, fear, judgement, scorn, and hatred leap from one heart to another like fire in dry grass. You can hate people completely and kill them in an instant.

#imagination

“Want of imagination makes things unreal enough to be destroyed. By imagination I mean knowledge and love. I mean compassion. People of power kill children, the old send the young to die, because they have no imagination. They have power. Can you have power and imagination at the same time? Can you kill people you don’t know and have compassion for them at the same time?”

 

“We weren’t allowing our hopes to become expectations. Expectations are tempting, pleasant, maybe necessary. They are scary too, once you have had some experience. They are not necessarily and not always a bucket of smoke, but they can be and are even likely to be.”

 

“One of the attractions of moving away into the life of employment, I think, is being disconnected and free, un-bothered by membership. It is a life of beginnings without memories, but it is a life too that ends without being remembered.”

 

“Most people now are looking for a better place, which means that a lot of them will end up in a worse one. I think this is what Nathan learned from his time in the army and the war. He saw a lot of places, and he came home. I think he gave up the idea that there is a better place somewhere else.

There is no “better place” than this, not in this world. And it is by the place we’ve got, and our love for it and our keeping of it, that this world is joined to Heaven. . . .

“Something better! Everybody’s talking about something better. The important thing is to feel good and be proud of what you got, don’t matter if it ain’t nothing but a log pen.”

Those thoughts come to me in the night, those thoughts and thoughts of becoming sick or helpless, of the nursing home, of lingering death. I gnaw again the old bones of the fear of what is to come, and grieve . . . over . . . (those) who have gone before. Finally, as a gift, as a mercy, I remember to pray, “thy will be done,” and then again I am free and can go to sleep.”
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

 

“I began to trust the world again, not to give me what I wanted, for I saw that it could not be trusted to do that, but to give unforeseen goods and pleasures that I had not thought to want.”

 

“Sometimes…I wander about in this house that Nathan and I renewed, that is now aged and worn by our life in it. How many steps, wearing the thresholds? I look at it all again. Sometimes it fills to the brim with sorrow, which signifies the joy that has been here, and the love. It is entirely a gift.” (158)”

 

“. . . but we didn’t speak of what was bothering us the most. Maybe we didn’t need to. It couldn’t have been “talked out.” It had to be worn out.”

 

“Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and you mustn’t shirk it. Love, after all, “hopeth all things.” But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, especially for other people. You must not let your hope turn into expectation.

 

I understood him. He wanted to die at home. He didn’t want to be going someplace all the time for the sake of a hopeless hope. He wanted to die as himself out of his own life. He didn’t want his death to be the end of a technological process. . . .

He didn’t last long after that. Death had become his friend. They say that people, if they want to, can let themselves slip away when the time comes. I think that is what Nathan did. He was not false or greedy. When the time came to go, he went.

Lyda and Andy Cartlett and I were with him when he died. It was about supper time, still daylight, the sun and the wind in the perfect new maple leaves outside the window. A dove called, somewhere off toward town a screen door slammed, and he was gone.”

 

It is hard to live one life and imagine another, but imagination is what is needed. Want of imagination makes things on real enough to be destroyed. By imagination I mean knowledge and love. I mean compassion. People of power kill children, the old send the young to die, because they have no imagination. They have power. Can you have power and imagination of the same time? Can you kill people you don’t know and have compassion for them at the same time?”