Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Watch With Me

       This is the title of a powerful short story that was written by Wendell Berry a few years ago.  Of course I don't want to tell it to you here -- I think that would be a lot like stealing -- but I want to borrow his story's set-up to make a point.

       It is the story of a couple of days in the life of a sturdy middle-aged Kentucky farmer who starts his day by killing a snake that is threatening his wife's chickens.   He is alone, and props his loaded shotgun against the wall of his barn while he is attending to some other things nearby.

       Who should happen by but a young man of the community, well-known to the farmer.  Well-known, because he is -- eccentric? feeble-minded? crazy?  Let's just settle on unpredictable.  Very unpredictable.  Predictably unpredictable. Nicknamed "Nightlife" in the community for a variety of reasons.

       And this unpredictable overgrown boy picks up the farmer's loaded shotgun,  mutters and talks to himself, and begins to walk off with it.

       Now what?

       The boy is armed with a loaded shotgun.  He is not in his right mind.  He is about to be at large, on foot, in the community.  The farmer is weaponless.  There the story begins, and there I will leave it.  (If you want to read a good commentary that is a bit of spoiler, but not really, you can find it here.)

       Why do I bring this up?  What is my point?

       Friends, we live in a country, in a time, when people we know and love (and maybe don't know and love as well as we should) are acting . . . unpredictable.  Predictably unpredictable.  Some of them are armed with more destructive energy than they have the wisdom to control.  Some of them have positions of responsibility, or of authority.  What are we going to do, and not do?

       Mr. Berry's story is all about what the farmer does and does not do.  And the "why" of his doing and not-doing is implicit.  Please buy or borrow the book, Watch With Me, and read the story just as Wendell Berry wrote it with his customary love, insight, and wisdom.

       Think and learn.  What is the ending?

*       *       *

Your comments are always welcome. 

No comments:

Post a Comment