Archive for April, 2012
I write today of my increasing love affair with the land. I notice the dirt of gardening under my fingernails, the sun gleaming on the pendulous purple wisteria and fragrant lilac in full bloom, the wren circling the house chirping for attention as he calls from nest to nest. Stonehaven is a constant reminder of how deeply connected I am to place.
Day by day, my roots are planted more firmly in the soil here in Pennsylvania, but like the wren, there are a number of places on this globe that ‘I belong’ to – places that I return to year after year. ‘Eagles Nest’ a treasured property in the Muskoka district of Ontario, Canada has been in the Bier family for over a century now. It would not be a summer if I couldn’t place my feet on the submerged rock deep out in the water of the bay. Also, over the past decades, Uli and I have been returning almost annually to the Adirondacks – canoeing on pristine wilderness lakes where we welcome the loons as our loudest neighbors.
This week, Wendell Berry was awarded the Jefferson Lecture Award in the Humanities at the JFK Center in Washington, DC. He eloquently spoke about economy and affection – two words that are not often seen together. Berry’s passion is that of one who is “a sticker – one motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve and remain in it.” He contrasts this to “boomers – who are motivated by greed, the desire for money, property and therefore power.”
He offers a hopeful message to us as humans that if we are “to have a responsible relationship to the world, we thrive on tangible connection … we must imagine our place in it. To have a place, to live and belong in a place, to live from a place without destroying it, we must imagine it…. By imagination we recognize with sympathy the fellow members, human and nonhuman, with whom we share our place. …that local experience enables sympathy, sympathy enables affection. And it is in affection that we find the possibility of a neighborly, kind, and conserving economy.”
Berry’s monumental speech is found at rhttp://www.neh.gov/about/awards/jefferson-lecture/wendell-e-berry-lecture. There is way too much substance in his words to do him justice, but I end this blog with great joy and inspiration because yet again, the land speaks through one of their dearest souls. Berry inspires me to continue to build a “soul-sustaining habitation: houses, households, earthly places where lives can be made and loved…”
Today, I close with the same way Berry ended his speech:
“We do not have to live as if we are alone.”