Practicing Resurrection


"Practice Resurrection."

At this time of year, once again, that  two-word sentence takes root in my mind. I think, over and over, of Wendell Berry's poem "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front." Its last line long ago won my heart: "Practice resurrection." 

Every semester during the study of Environmental Ethics," my class of thirty students recited this poem. We went around our circle, a student reading up to a punctuation mark, pausing, then the next student continuing the poem. How moving Berry's "Mad Farmer" sounded when recited by voices from around the globe.  How powerful the silence we shared after the last student pronounced "Practice resurrection."

This morning I looked up the word "resurrect" in my big, serious Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language. What if I acted on the following definitions of the word "resurrect" in my everyday life? How can I work "to restore to life" what is beautiful and true?  What ideas and behavior should I try "to bring to view again (something forgotten or lost)?"  Who and what begs for the chance of "rising again from an inferior state into a superior?" 

I'm glad for these newly-phrased questions. The answers will be different for each of us, dependent on our individual circumstances and abilities. My springtime mantra "practice resurrection" now carries more weight. How will I live a life of ongoing "resurgence" and "revival?" How can we all rise together, again and again?

Two lines from Berry's poem can spark the practice of resurrection.

"Love someone who does not deserve it."

"Love the world."