Please don’t tell him, but I love Wendell Berry. OK, tell him. Just maybe not his wife. Tonight, he will be the first living inductee into the Kentucky Writers’ Hall of Fame and I will be there. With bells on and dancing a jig. Wendell Berry is a Kentucky writer, but more than that, a Kentuckian. He lives on and works the “dark and bloody ground;” he writes about the land and her people. He celebrates it and mourns it and enjoys it and adores it. He’s an environmentalist, a novelist, poet, essayist, cultural critic, anti-strip mining, anti-coal activist, philosopher and a Mad Farmer. He has been awarded so many prizes, they must fill an entire room. The Jefferson Lecture, The National Humanities Lecture, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships, the Roosevelt Institute’s Freedom Medal . . . and on. Wendell Berry does not merely give lip service to his beliefs; he enforces them by his actions. In 2010, he pulled his papers from and ended his nearly-lifetime affiliation with the University of Kentucky in protest of the naming of the basketball dorm, “Wildcat Coal Lodge.” Congratulations to Mr. Berry. In celebration, a few of my favorite of his words.
The Peace of Wild Things
“This is a book about Heaven. I know it now. It floats among us like a cloud and is the realest thing we know and the least to be captured, the least to be possessed by anybody for himself. It is like a grain of mustard seed, which you cannot see among the crumbs of earth where it lies. It is like the reflection of the trees on the water.”