intermission

a different kind of Saturday

It’s a pleasure to have a break in pace: Loving Husband had Saturday off. He usually takes private students all day, beginning at 9am. We typically only manage a quick, functional run together before breakfast and his work day begins.

Yesterday, for various reasons, he didn’t have any morning students. So we drove out to Gardens by the Bay, one of the green spaces we often enjoy as part of our ParkTour explorations.

Although the main thoroughfares were well patronised as expected for a weekend morning, we found a number of quiet spots & paths to run along.

Green roof at the Marina Barrage.

We also found many interesting things on the ground: like these pretty frangipani (plumeria)

and burst pods of the kapok tree (Silk Floss tree)

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A blog conversation with Carol Ann Siciliano led me to dig deeper into Wendell Berry‘s career & writing this week. I was particularly captivated by his keenness towards the natural world. My favourite find this week: one of his Sabbath poems.

How long does it take to make the woods?
As long as it takes to make the world.
The woods is present as the world is, the presence
of all its past, and of all its time to come.
It is always finished, it is always being made, the act
of its making forever greater than the act of its destruction.
It is a part of eternity, for its end and beginning
belong to the end and beginning of all things,
the beginning lost in the end, the end in the beginning.

What is the way to the woods, how do you go there?
By climbing up 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
to 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, alone,
expecting nothing, remembering nothing,
into the ease of sight, the brotherhood [and sisterhood!] of eye and leaf.

Wendell Berry's Sabbath poem "1985, V"

Stanza 1 reminds me of the opening of the Gospel of John. The reference to a narrow gate in Stanza 2 & 3 made me think of the Needle Gate referenced in the other 3 gospels. Christian poetry with an environmental bent – very nourishing.

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This post is my contribution to

23 Comments

  1. I love plumerias. There was a plumeria event at a garden where they were selling plumeria plants. It requires a lot of water and a lot of sun, but I’m not sure if I would be able to handle the upkeep.

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    1. And they grow quite large, don’t they? Ah, but you have a garden so you do have space for them? I particularly love the multicoloured flowers – I saw one yesterday which had yellow, white & pink all in one flower!

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  2. My pulse quieted and I found such serenity simply by enjoying the beautiful “found” art of ground-blossoms. (Your feature photo took my breath away.) I smiled to celebrate your “found” time with Loving Husband. And then I found your Wendell Berry poem. Thank you for enriching our conversation so beautifully. I read the poem slowly, and twice. The line that speaks to me right now is this one in the third stanza: “Why must the gate be narrow?/ Because you cannot pass beyond it burdened.” I love his reminder of the “six days’ world” and what we need to let go, all framed through pasture and woods. Thank you for sharing it, Ju-Lyn.

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    1. Our conversations never fail to ground me, and call me to a quiet place – thank you Carol Ann.

      We are asked in our Marriage Encounter apostolate to read our love letters to our spouse twice: once for the head, and once for the heart. And so it can be for poetry too. I am off The Peace of Wild Things – he really speaks to my broken heart.

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  3. I love frangipanis and those are lovely with the water droplets. Gorgeous. This line in the poem reminded me of housework. “It is always finished, it is always being made, the act
    of its making forever greater than the act of its destruction.” I also loved this line, “Why must the gate be narrow? Because you cannot pass beyond it burdened.” The gate is not trying to keep anyone out, but unless you give up the burdens, that you can’t carry yourself anyway, you can’t fit. I get that! Thanks, Ju-Lyn. Hope you have many more wonderful runs with your husband.

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    1. Appreciate so much your spending time with this poem, and sharing your insights. And I love that “it is always finished, it is always being made” reminded you of housework!!!

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  4. Glad you two had the unexpected time to go for a run and be with nature. Beautiful findings. Thank you for your contribution to #weekendcoffeeshare.

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  5. Our Saturday was the opposite and busy from end to end, but highly enjoyable as we don’t have to work. Today will be more relaxed, after a morning walk. Such a beautiful space you found to spend time together. The Header shot is wonderful. Have a good week!

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