In the morning, while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.

Mark 1:35

Here is a poem by Wendell Berry about spending time alone in those deserted places, whether they be the hills of Judea, around Berry’s farm in Kentucky, or wherever we are able to go and sit still:

Sabbaths 1979 I by Wendell Berry

 I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

Sitting still among the trees, all our stirring becomes quiet. We can hear our song – which is God’s song – at last, and sing it. But first we have to hear it. Silence, solitude, and prayer open our hearts and help us to hear the song from above. When we quiet our souls, we hear this beautiful song again. We get in touch with our hopes, our fears, and our loving God. And then we can leave that place, with our souls refreshed, ready to join in singing this song again.

O Lord, help us to find time to live for a while in your peace, among the trees, or wherever we find ourselves. Remind us of your grace, mercy, and love. And, filled with these gifts, lead us ever forward in sharing them with those around us. Help us to hear our song at last, our song which is your song, and to sing it with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen


This is the first of many wonderful poems by Wendell Berry in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected & New, 1979-2013 published by Counter Point Press.

A recent walk of mine in the Uwharrie National Forest

7 thoughts on “I Go Among Trees and Sit Still by Wendell Berry

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