Wendell Berry on pride, despair & fragments of a music

‘There is the bad work of pride. There is also the bad work of despair – done poorly out of the failure of hope or vision. Despair is the too-little of responsibility, as pride is the too-much. The shoddy work of despair, the pointless work of pride, equally betray Creation. They are wastes of life. For despair there is no forgiveness, and for pride none. Who in loneliness can forgive?

Good work finds the way between pride and despair. It graces with health. It heals with grace. It preserves the given so that it remains a gift. By it, we lose loneliness:-

We clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of those who come after us;

We enter the little circle of each other’s arms,

and the larger circle of lovers whose hands are joined in a dance,

and the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life, who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it except in fragments.’

Wendell Berry

Thank you to Neil Talbott for drawing our attention to these words….

So hard. From a person-centred perspective, what Wendell calls ‘pride’ and ‘despair’ are fear-born and fear-driven, and we all fall into both at times, probably repeatedly – and the task of life is to emerge repeatedly…and offer our good work to ourselves and each other and the world.

As we approach the winter break, we want to thank our therapists for their good work; for their willingness to make their own journeys and so support the journeys of those they work with; and we want to acknowledge and honour ‘all creatures, passing in and out of life, who move also’ in this dance…

May we all hear fragments of the music.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

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