Work for Nothing

As I’ve been starting on my journey with the Wendell Berry Mad Farmer Challenge, trying to do something every day which doesn’t compute, each day has brought with it the excitement of “what will I do today?” It really is all about plotting goodness. I get energized brainstorming for the day.

For now, I’m taking my initial cues straight from the poem. On day 1, I denounced the government and embraced the flag by not voting and writing a letter to a soldier in Afghanistan. Day 2, I loved someone who did not deserve it by sending chocolate to a hawkish lobbying firm in D.C.

Yesterday, day 3, I must confess was a bust. I thought all day about how to enact this desire, to practice resurrection like a fox. But, I was busy with school and other activities. It was a humbling reminder of my own imperfection, that my spirit was will but my flesh was weak. Practicing resurrection requires our own death to self and to the busyness of life. It never ceases to amaze me, the paradoxical nature of the kingdom of  God, that to gain life we must lose it. To be born again, we must die to ourselves. To help birth the kingdom of God, we must take up the cross. Resurrection can’t come without death first.

Though I fell short on day 3, I did spend the time thinking of other ways to live life more paradoxically. Another line in the poem is to “Work for nothing.” Today, I did just that. I gave a check to my work for the amount of a day’s wage. I wavered between telling my boss and not, and settled on not. Though part of the point of the WBMFC is to confound others, it’s primarily letting go of my own inner attachment to violence, money, status, etc. I need to be freed from the politicos of my own soul. I don’t want my mind to be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. I don’t want to fear my neighbors. My quest to practice resurrection each day is not just about public declaration of my belief in the coming kingdom. It’s about my own liberation. It’s about making tracks in the wrong direction. A fox does that by instinct and I too must leave behind a life that confounds the very powers that want to keep me buying and voting and fighting. I can only lead a life that doesn’t compute when I learn new instincts, when I imagine new solutions to old questions.

So friends, I implore you too, to do something every day that doesn’t compute. Don’t let a window be placed in your mind, where the whole world can see you move along like a machine.

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

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One Response

  1. on a side note i recently decided to try to make up tunes to go with the psalms…so i can memorize them. i was thinking about how monks used to know the whole psalter, well probably a lot of other Jews and Christians too. i know people have done it before, i want more than just the chanting tones though, something that will help me remember better! i already memorized one through this method haha

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