Art and Beauty: Wendell Berry’s Essays

In his collection of essays What Are People For, Wendell Berry writes about the role of despair and sorrow in producing hope and joy. It’s just great.

Reading these essays has gotten better and better the further in I’ve gotten. It’s really some beautiful stuff. I only wish I was reading the physical copy of this collection, and not a kindle version on my iPhone…

Anyway, on suffering, Berry says,

“[S]omething more is involved that is even harder to talk about because it is only slightly understandable, and that is the part that suffering plays in the economy of the spirit. It seems plain that the voice of our despair defines our hope exactly; it seems, indeed, that we cannot know of hope without knowing of despair, just as we know joy precisely to the extent that we know sorrow…

“Is it necessary, as some appear to have supposed, to cultivate despair and sorrow in order to know hope and joy? No, for there will always be enough despair and sorrow. And what might have been the spiritual economy of Eden, when there was no knowledge of despair and sorrow? We don’t need to worry about that.”

Wendell Berry, from an essay entitled “A Poem of Difficult Hope.”

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