Secede into Care: An Election Day (Every Day) Poem

posted by Lauren Plummer

Today we will vote or not vote, and someone will be elected to lead our country.  And still – to the children of distant lands and children of our own land, in the bodies of women, on the backs of the poor, in the souls of men, and  to the earth herself – still unspeakable violence will be done. Our hope cannot rest in elected officials.

Yes, our choices today, and especially the intentions and consciousness they spring from, matter. But forget the noise and distraction of Right or Left; both are Babylon. As people of faith, Election Day is such a tiny piece (much more the beginning than the end) of our work in the world. Let this be our real work – to use up our lives every day casting a vote for Justice over Comfort, Mercy over Power, Community over Self, Love over Fear, Life over Death.

I think Wendell Berry says it best – so here, a poem (and a prayer) for your thoughts (and your actions) today (and every day):

The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union

From the union of power and money,
From the union of power and secrecy,
From the union of government and science,
From the union of government and art,
From the union of science and money,
From the union of ambition and ignorance,
From the union of genius and war,
From the union of outer space and inner vacuity,
The Mad Farmer walks quietly away.

There is only one of him, but he goes.
He returns to the small country he calls home,
His own nation small enough to walk across.
He goes shadowy into the local woods,
And brightly into the local meadows and croplands.
He goes to the care of neighbors,
He goes into the care of neighbors.
He goes to the potluck supper, a dish
From each house for the hunger of every house.
He goes into the quiet of early mornings
Of days when he is not going anywhere.

Calling his neighbors together in to the sanctity
Of their lives separate and together
In the one life of the commonwealth and home,
In their own nation small enough for a story
Or song to travel across in an hour, he cries:

Come all ye conservatives and liberals
Who want to conserve the good things and be free,
Come away from the merchants of big answers,
Whose hands are metalled with power;
From the union of anywhere and everywhere
By the purchase of everything from everybody at the lowest price
And the sale of anything to anybody at the highest price;
From the union of work and debt, work and despair;
From the wage-slavery of the helplessly well-employed.

From the union of self-gratification and self-annihilation,
Secede into the care for one another
And for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth.

Come into the life of the body, the one body
Granted to you in all the history of time.
Come into the body’s economy, its daily work,
And its replenishment at mealtimes and at night.
Come into the body’s thanksgiving, when it knows
And acknowledges itself a living soul.
Come into the dance of the community, joined
In a circle, hand in hand, the dance of the eternal
Love of women and men for one another
And of neighbors and friends for one another.

Always disappearing, always returning,
Calling his neighbors to return, to think again
Of the care of flocks and herds, of gardens
And fields, of woodlots and forests and the uncut groves,
Calling them separately and together, calling and calling,
He goes forever toward the long restful evening
And the croak of the night heron over the river at dark.

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2 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Lost At Sea and commented:
    I know it’s lazy to steal… uh, reblog… someone else’s post. But I love everything she says, as well as the Wendell Berry poem, of course, and she says it a lot more convincingly than I could, maybe because she lives it a lot more convincingly than I do. Anyway, I thought it was worth sharing…

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