by Claire DesHotels, ISP Regional Director Upper-Midwest

reflecting with “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”, a poem by Wendell Berry

In his poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” Wendell Berry ends his poem with a simple line: “practice resurrection.”

When I see the word resurrection, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the resurrection, and the notion of rising from or overcoming something as significant as death. While Jesus’ resurrection was and continues to be momentously significant, Berry’s poem helps me break down the ways I might experience resurrection in a more ordinary, daily way. 

To resurrect is to revitalize, to revive something. Berry’s poem is ultimately a call for us to reawaken to the experience of being human, of being created, of being specks of stardust in an expansive and interconnected ecosystem made entirely of that same dust. Is this not what Jesus calls us to as well? In his command to go and do likewise, Jesus calls us to see one another, love one another, to consider how our actions impact all of God’s beloved. I hear Jesus in this poem when I read: 

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

I hear God in the call to: 

Ask the questions that have no answers.

Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.

Say that your main crop is the forest

that you did not plant,

that you will not live to harvest.

Berry paints a picture of how we might reawaken to a life that celebrates our holy being. Ways we might slow down, notice, and care for the life that exists all around us; ways we might resurrect our souls from a life committed to consumption, money, and power and instead embrace the beauty of creation and our fellow beings. 

Easter is a time to remember what it is we are created to be and to rise to the challenge of embracing it fully. 

Reflection Questions: How do you practice resurrection in an ordinary and daily way? What in Berry’s poem challenges you (e.g. “Love someone who does not deserve it.”)? What in the poem inspires hope for you (e.g. “Ask the questions that have no answers.”)?

Claire is the ISP Regional Director for the Upper-Midwest cities of Chicago, St. Louis, and the Twin Cities. She lives in Chicago with her partner and their Bernese mountain dog.