Wednesday, August 18, 2010

a distant contemplative spirit


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"This continued fair, warm weather, and the ripening of the earth... affords a glimpse of life on a higher level than we know.  It is marvelous that our daily lives go on amid this splendor. No heaven could be more fair."
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To see the earth and its creatures in this way is not to see them merely as they would appear to the eye of a naturalist, for he said, "I have little sympathy with the viewpoint of the naturalist."  It is rather, to see into their life, to be aware of the informing spirit which they manifest: "The sound of the crickets is one voice, one manifestation, one of the myriads of the spirit which hovers over the earth." This seems sometimes to be a "distant contemplative spirit, yet so near and real, that watches the writhings of men."  At other times it seems to be immanent, at one with the creatures it informs, and this leads him to dispute the scientific reduction to fact: "I watched the fireflies as I looked down into the bottom land, like a basin in its wall of dark trees, all filled with the flashing, moving light... Their wild dance suggests the supernatural.  The scientist would explain it probably as the mating of insects, but how would he account for the joy it raises in the beholder?  That is the supernatural part and it can't be explained away.  It is more real than the scientific fact."
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~ Wendell Berry
quoting Harlan Hubbard's journal from 1963
art by HH "The Hawthorne Tree," 1985
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