A Sabbath Poem
a Sabbath poem
on the sixth day,
the mad farmer built a house.
he built his house quietly, on quiet land.
the paperwork called the land his, but he knew it was not.
on the seventh day,
trusting that by hard work, by sun, rain, and rhythm, and
by the grace of God his garden would grow.
thanking God for family and friendship young and old,
for sun and moon, music, breath and sex and sight,
all gifts from the divine.
resting in his rest,
the foremost act of trust,
the perfect, primal, bravest act of worship known to men
(not all men, only a few).
on the eighth day,
the mad farmer returned to his work
and found all as it was
and he knew the sweetness,
the goodness of the seventh day.
If you wish to use this poem for devotional reflection on the Sabbath, I recommend focusing on the verbs in the middle stanzas: he ate, trusting; he loved, thanking; he slept, resting. What would it look like for you to do these things on the Sabbath?
“The Mad Farmer” is a favorite title of Wendell Berry, a farmer and poet who has written many Sabbath poems as well as other poems in which he identifies himself as The Mad Farmer. He is “mad” not in the sense that he is angry, but in the perception of those around him who criticize his use of old-fashioned and low-tech farming techniques, his open criticism of public policies that bring harm to land and people, and his love of the Sabbath. The use of the title “mad farmer” in this poem is a nod to Berry’s influence in my work and my Sabbath rest.
“Breath and sex and sight” is part of a verse from a song titled “You Are the Beauty” by a band called Gungor. The use of this phrase here is a nod to another work that celebrates the goodness of God’s creation.