May 04, 2010

This has been the year for meeting idols

I got to see Judith Martin and her lovely daughter in January--and she signed my ancient first edition of Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior.  I nearly met Arthur Dent a few weeks ago (and am still kicking myself a bit about not saying hello).  And tonight, I am going to be meeting Wendell Berry.  Or, well, I am HOPING to meet Wendell Berry tonight.  He'll be speaking at my local library, and I'll be bringing my copy of Jayber Crow, which is, by far, my favorite of his novels.  (Remember, I wasn't a huge fan of Hannah Coulter.)

I'm excited by the opportunity because I do like Berry's work, though I think her is often too romantic.  And what's the word for those times when a novel stops being about a story and starts being about a philosophy?  Yeah, he does that too.  A lot.  But I've never read any short story as simple and lovely as "A Consent" (it is a top five favorite short story, certainly!).

Jayber Crow is, as I said, my favorite of his novels.  About a bachelor barber in Port William, who's life is uneventful and yet remarkable.  Because he is self-aware and, though he sort of just stumbled into his trade, chose a simple, small life, he ends up being wise and circumspect.  Like the philosopher shepherd, he endures, he watches, and he tells stories, and we're all better off for it.


In honor of Mother's Day this weekend, I'll simply post this poem:
TO MY MOTHER  by Wendell Berry

I was your rebellious son,
do you remember? Sometimes
I wonder if you do remember,
so complete has your forgiveness been.

So complete has your forgiveness been
I wonder sometimes if it did not
precede my wrong, and I erred,
safe found, within your love,

prepared ahead of me, the way home,
or my bed at night, so that almost
I should forgive you, who perhaps
foresaw the worst that I might do,

and forgave before I could act,
causing me to smile now, looking back,
to see how paltry was my worst,
compared to your forgiveness of it
already given. And this, then,
is the vision of that Heaven of which
we have heard, where those who love
each other have forgiven each other,

where, for that, the leaves are green,
the light a music in the air,
and all is unentangled,
and all is undismayed.

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