November 2, 2015

The Impeded Stream

One of my favorite poets is Wendell Berry.  I recently came across some words from him that have stayed with me:

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

What he means, I suppose, is that without hardship we are never find the fullness of our life’s calling, our true voice.  Without bumps in the road, washouts, and detours, we never get where we are truly meant to be.  The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

The choir at the church I have been attending recently sang an old song that I love, one that was sung at my ordination.  And it seemed to me at first that the song contradicts the poet.  But here are the first two verses and refrain:

My life flows on in endless song;
above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

My life, I suppose, has been like an impeded stream over these past 18 months.  And still it flows on, spilling over surgery and chemo, rippling around radiation, dancing through doctor visits, persevering – a song of thanksgiving, a song of being reminded yet again of the preciousness of life.  And that is truly something to sing about!