Wendell Berry on Aging

I like to think that all things have the power to regenerate life.  But maybe I’m just denying the reality of death.  Here’s a Wendell Berry poem about aging that I am wrestling with.  The poem forces me to confront the fact that aging and decline can be a sort of gift if we face it squarely and let it lead us to “be generous toward each day.”

How will you use this time in your church’s life to relinquish those possibilities that no longer exist and freely give yourself away for the purpose of Christ?

There is No Going Back

No, no, there is no going back.

Less and less you are that possibility you were.

More and more you have become those lives and deaths

that have belonged to you. You have become a sort of grave

containing much that was and is no more in time,

beloved then, now, and always.

And so you have become a sort of tree standing over a grave.

Now more than ever you can be generous toward each day that comes, young,

to disappear forever, and yet remain unaging in the mind.

Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away. 

(Wendell Berry, from “Collected Poems)

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