To think better, to think like the best humans, we are probably going to have to learn again to judge a person’s intelligence, not by the ability to recite facts, but by the good order or harmoniousness of his or her surroundings. We must suspect that any statistical justification of ugliness and violence is a revelation of stupidity.
―Wendell Berry, “People, Land, and Community”, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
If we are looking for insurance against want and oppression, we will find it only in our neighbors’ prosperity and goodwill and, beyond that, in the good health of our worldly places, our homelands. If we were sincerely looking for a place of safety, for real security and success, then we would begin to turn to our communities – and not the communities simply of our human neighbors but also of the water, earth, and air, the plants and animals, all the creatures with whom our local life is shared.
It was no thought or word that called culture into being, but a
tool or a weapon. After the stone axe we needed song and story
to remember innocence, to record effect-and so to describe
the limits, to say what can be done without damage.
The backbone of synkroniciti in 2015 was the daily quote, which continued largely uninterrupted even when I was extremely busy. I have always enjoyed pairing words and images, and putting together these combinations nurtures me. It is my delight that they nurture others as well, that there are souls as weird as mine that are drawn to them. Thank you.
As we explore our weekly themes, we encounter many different and sometimes contradictory observations. Sometimes they hit the funny bone, sometimes they take our breath away. Some are like old friends and others meet us like strangers from a distant land.
These are the ten quotes that received the most views in 2015. I’ll release a second list soon that contains my favorites. Enjoy!
And I knew that the Spirit that had gone forth to shape the world and make it live was still alive in it. I just had no doubt. I could see that I lived in the created world, and it was still being created. I would be part of it forever. There was no escape. The Spirit that made it was in it, shaping it and reshaping it, sometimes lying at rest, sometimes standing up and shaking itself, like a muddy horse, and letting the pieces fly.
The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around.
Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led – make of that what you will.
Public Domain Image from the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
I loved the different voices all singing one song, the various tones and qualities, the passing lifts of feeling, rising up and going out forever. Old Man Profet, who was a different man on Sunday, used to draw out the notes at the ends of verses so he could listen to himself, and in fact it sounded pretty.
―Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow
Happy 80th birthday to Mr. Berry! We’re thankful for your voice.