So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it…
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed…
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
These are just a few lines taken from a much longer poem Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, © 1973 by Wendell Berry. It made me think of the upside down world we are living in at the moment. The whole poem is a political critique of the world we normally live in, with the demand for an ever expanding standard of living no matter what the cost or who ultimately bears that cost. As followers of Jesus Christ we are challenged not to live by worldly standards.
We follow a leader who was not powerful or wealthy and has been reflected in the lives of Christian saints throughout the ages. From John Wesley’s comments about not owning “silver spoons whist there are those in want of bread”* to Pope Francis who wears a simple Soutane rather than the rich silk robes of his office.
I particularly like the phrases about planting sequoias (the oldest sequoia is around 3,200 years old). It brings to mind the words of St. Paul, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered, but God made it grow.” (1Cor. 3:6, NIV). In the quiet moments of this lock down think about those aspects of church life you enjoy and have benefited from but were not of your making or control and give thanks. But also think about what you are planting, what kind of church will you leave to future generations? Do we need to give thanks or seek God’s forgiveness!?
God bless and stay safe,
*(In 1776 the Tax Commissioners investigated him insisting that for a man of his income he must have silver dishes that he was not paying excise tax on. He wrote them,
“I have two silver spoons at London and two at Bristol. This is all the plate I have at present, and I shall not buy any more while so many round me want bread.”)