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Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Way to the Woods - Wendell Berry & Ivan Granger

Sabbaths 1985, V


“What is the way to the woods, how do you go there?
By climbing through the six days’ field,
kept in all the body’s years, the body’s
sorrow, weariness, and joy.
By passing through the narrow gate
on the far side of that field
where the pasture grass
of the body’s life
gives way
the high, original
standing of the trees.
By coming into the shadow,
the shadow of the grace of the strait
way’s ending, the shadow of the mercy
of light…

Why must the gate be narrow?
Because you cannot pass beyond it burdened.
To come in among these trees you must leave behind
the six days’ world,
all of it,
all of its plans
and hopes.

You must come without weapon or tool,
expecting nothing,
remembering nothing…”

Wendell Berry
Excerpt from: A Timbered Choir

Something so healing, so earthly — in the most sanctified sense — in this Sabbath meditation by Wendell Berry.

His phrases of the “six days’ world” and the “six day’s field” are references to how we see the world and interact with the world on all the other days of the week, the non-Sabbath days. In the “six days’ world” we work, we do, we accomplish, we acquire. Often it is a world of control and burdens, “plans and hopes.” It is a world of objects and tools to manipulate those objects. Too often it is a world of domination and separation.

An essential reason for the Sabbath is to remind us that that “six days’ world” is not the real world nor is it the whole world, it is only one way of interacting with the world. When we take a true day of rest, and enter a majestic space not made by men — like the ancient, silent woods — we remember that we participate in a larger life, eternal, eternally recycling itself. We are reminded that there is a wholeness to the world we live in, something we can’t segment and sell without harm to ourselves. The Sabbath, the woods, the wilds, these remind us of the sacred, whole, eternal spaces within the human spirit. In true rest and quiet awe, we return to ourselves.

Ivan Granger at Poetry Chaikhana



  1. thanks you for the poem by Wendell Berry and for the discourse by Ivan Granger. That was helpful. I didnt realize WB was religious in this way. Also, I will click on this link which I did not know of. Be well, Mystic. Suki

    1. Don't know how "religious" Berry is... Bios say he is concerned with nature and the well-being of mankind, living in harmony with nature. I get the sense he is a "traditionalist" in terms of values. Others liken him to Thoreau. And of course the "discourse" by Granger is only his interpretation, but one I like :) I doubt Berry would have been interested in "mysticism.: LOL Thanks Suki


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