This week, what we are doing (instead of listening to me) is hearing and discussing quotes from Wendell Berry’s 2015 book, Our Only World: Ten Essays.
In our final post of thoughts from Berry, he meditates on Jesus’ words, “Take no thought for the morrow,” encouraging us to remember that, if something is right to do to make the future better, it is right to do now, for the present good.
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There is in fact much at hand and in reach that is good, useful, encouraging, and full of promise, although we seem less and less inclined to attend to or value what is at hand. We are always ready to set aside our present life, even our present happiness, to peruse the menu of future exterminations. If the future is threatened by the present, which it undoubtedly is, then the present is more threatened, and often is annihilated, by the future. “Oh, oh, oh,” cry the funerary experts, looking ahead through their black veils. “Life as we know it soon will end. If the governments don’t stop us, we’re going to destroy the world. The time is coming when we will have to do something to save the world. The time is coming when it will be too late to save the world. Oh, oh, oh.” If that is the way our minds are afflicted, we and our world are dead already. The present is going by and we are not in it. Maybe when the present is past, we will enjoy sitting in dark rooms and looking at pictures of it, even as the present keeps arriving in our absence. Or maybe we could give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it.
…Only the present good is good. It is the presence of good — good work, good thoughts, good acts, good places — by which we know that the present does not have to be a nightmare of the future. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” because, if not at hand, it is nowhere.
From “On Being Asked for ‘A Narrative for the Future’” (2013)
In Our Only World: Ten Essays