Wendell Berry: “Do the Two Things You Can Do”

“We all come from divorce. This is an age of divorce.  Things that belong together have been taken apart. And you can’t put it all together.  What you can do, is the only thing you can do. Two things. Not all things” (Wendell Berry during an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, April 24, 2016).

“We all come from divorce.  This is an age of divorce.”  Stunning words from a very wise man, Wendell Berry: poet, novelist, essayist, public speaker, environmentalist – but most of all farmer and lover of the land.  This statement came during an interview * Berry and his film producer, Laura Dunn, had with Rachel Martin on Morning Edition, NPR’s Sunday morning show.  Berry and Dunn  have collaborated on a film about his life and perspective called The Seer. It is making the rounds of film festivals after premiering at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Think about the things that have been divorced in our age, things that belong together and have been taken apart. Love and sex, food and farms, family and family time, politics and integrity, wealth and sharing, knowledge and wisdom, communication and face-to-face relationships, comfort and gratitude.  . . . the list goes on and on.

Contrary to our tendency to find an issue and then give up on dealing with it before we even start because it interacts with every other issue in the world (the divorce between truth and responsibility, I guess), Berry says forget trying to fix it  all.  Marry together two things in your life that you can fix.  Gal. 6-9

What are two things you can put back together? You and a friend or family member? A belief and a practice (eating healthy and environmental activism)?  Justice and grace? Your creative spirit and your childhood love of coloring? Your social activism and solitude (to help you gain strength for the work)?  Your outrage at a societal wrong and your love of writing?  Your keen eye for beauty and a spot in your neighborhood or town that is ugly and demoralizing? Your gift for teaching and a child or adult who would love to learn?  Your faith and your daily walk? I’m going to try to create a courtship between joy and moving from our home of nearly than twenty years.

Jesus didn’t tell us that we had to be perfect.  He told us that he was the Way, the Truth and the Life and that we should bring his spirit into the world –  housed in our bodies. Let’s bring a spirit of joining together to a world that is more familiar with divorce.


*Click here to read the transcript of this interview with Wendell Berry on Morning Edition.

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1 Response to Wendell Berry: “Do the Two Things You Can Do”

  1. Carol McGeehan says:

    Karen, Thank you for this beautiful post–it is so powerful and inspiring!

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