Wonders and uncommercial goods

By Dave Henning / August 18, 2022

“The ‘wonders and uncommercial goods’ all around us cannot be purchased; no, they can only be enjoyed.  And the mysteries that we behold around us have a way of metabolizing within us and manifesting outside of us in a kind of reverent holiness.”- Daniel Grothe (emphasis Daniel’s)

“Attention is the beginning of devotion.”- Mary Oliver, poet

As Daniel Grothe moves on in Chapter 4 of The Power of Place, he highlights three significant themes, or values, in Wendell Berry’s body of work.  So today Pastor Grothe covers the first value.

Value 1: A Love of — and Devotion to — Our Places.  Through giving all his attention to his Father’s world and living outside, Berry learned the goodness of creation.  And that they material world matters.  Above all, Berry believes that through discovery of how much God loves the world, we find our deep calling.  Thus, the essence of the human vocation consists of:

  • loving the world just the same
  • giving the world our full attention
  • noticing its beauty
  • finding ourselves enraptured by its mysteries

Most significantly, Berry stresses, God doesn’t call us to love the world in general.  Rather, He calls us to love the little worlds we all inhabit in particular.

As a result, Pastor Grothe underscores:

“Generalization is the death of intimacy; abstraction the archenemy of love.  So it makes sense that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to Mary and Joseph who lived in the cramped little city of Nazareth in Galilee!  Love makes a big difference when it gets small.”

In conclusion, Berry observes, no unsacred places exist in the world.  Instead, we either find sacred places or desecrated places.  Therefore, Pastor Grothe asks, will you treat your place as holy ground up which God visits you?

Or, as Jason Peters, a lifelong student of Berry, sums up Berry’s teaching: “Not to hope for a better place, but to be worthy of the one I’m in.”

Today’s question: Do you keep an inventory of wonders and uncommercial goods, like Berry?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Forswear love and excellence?”

About the author

Dave Henning

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