65 Wendell Berry Quotes On Success In Life

Wendell Erdman Berry is an American novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. These Wendell Berry quotes will motivate you.

Best Wendell Berry Quotes

  1. “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” ~ Wendell Berry
  2. “I would like you to show me, if you can, where the line can be drawn between an organism and it’s environment. The environment is in you. It’s passing through you. You’re breathing it in and out. You and every other creature.” ~ Wendell Berry
  3. “When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” ~ Wendell Berry
  4. “Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” ~ Wendell Berry

  5. “A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” ~ Wendell Berry
  6. “We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.” ~ Wendell Berry
  7. “Sit and be still
    until in the time
    of no rain you hear
    beneath the dry wind’s
    commotion in the trees
    the sound of flowing
    water among the rocks,
    a stream unheard before,
    and you are where
    breathing is prayer.” ~ Wendell Berry
  8. “Under the pavement, the dirt is dreaming of grass.” ~ Wendell Berry

  9. “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.” ~ Wendell Berry
  10. “Outdoors we are confronted everywhere with wonders; we see that the miraculous is not extraordinary, but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread.” ~ Wendell Berry
  11. “It may be that when we no longer know… which way to go we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” ~ Wendell Berry
  12. “We clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of those who come after us; we enter the little circle of each other’s arms, and the larger circle of lovers whose hands are joined in a dance, and the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life, who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it except in fragments.” ~ Wendell Berry
  13. “When I rise up, let me rise up joyful like a bird. When I fall, let me fall without regret like a leaf.” ~ Wendell Berry

  14. “The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.” ~ Wendell Berry
  15. “We don’t have a right to ask whether we’re going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is what’s the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?” ~ Wendell Berry
  16. “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” ~ Wendell Berry
  17. “And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.” ~ Wendell Berry
  18. “You can’t know where life will take you, but you can commit to a direction” ~ Wendell Berry

  19. “We enter solitude, in which also we lose loneliness. True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources. In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.” ~ Wendell Berry
  20. “The law is meant to work for justice. But people who know themselves know that, at some point, justice had better be mitigated by mercy. And you don’t get to mercy by a legal principle. You get to mercy by way of imagination, sympathy, tenderness of heart – which are not weaknesses.” ~ Wendell Berry
  21. “There is much good work to be done by every one of us and we must begin to do it.” ~ Wendell Berry

  22. “I am speaking of the life of a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children; who has undertaken to cherish it and do it no damage, not because he is duty-bound, but because he loves the world and loves his children…” ~ Wendell Berry
  23. “Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.” ~ Wendell Berry
  24. “Unexpected wonders happen, not on schedule, or when you expect or want them to happen, but if you keep hanging around, they do happen.” ~ Wendell Berry
  25. “I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.” ~ Wendell Berry
  26. “The mind that is not baffled, is unemployed” ~ Wendell Berry

  27. “New grief, when it came, you could feel filling the air. It took up all the room there was. The place itself, the whole place, became a reminder of the absence of the hurt or the dead or the missing one. I don’t believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and griever alike endure.” ~ Wendell Berry
  28. “Good farmers, who take seriously their duties as stewards of Creation and of their land’s inheritors, contribute to the welfare of society in more ways than society usually acknowledges, or even knows. These farmers produce valuable goods, of course; but they also conserve soil, they conserve water, they conserve wildlife, they conserve open space, they conserve scenery.” ~ Wendell Berry
  29. “Without prosperous local economies, the people have no power and the land no voice.” ~ Wendell Berry

  30. “As I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of the rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the town and the wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here. Well, you can read and see what you think.” ~ Wendell Berry
  31. “The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement, the soil is dreaming of grass.” ~ Wendell Berry
  32. “It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.” ~ Wendell Berry

  33. “We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.” ~ Wendell Berry
  34. “Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.” ~ Wendell Berry
  35. “They learned to have a very high opinion of God and a very low opinion of His works—although they could tell you that this world had been made by God Himself. What they didn’t see was that it is beautiful and that some of the greatest beauties are the briefest.” ~ Wendell Berry
  36. “It is certain, I think, that the best government is the one that governs the least. But there is a much-neglected corollary: the best citizen is the one who least needs governing.” ~ Wendell Berry
  37. “To defend what we love we need a particularizing language, for we love what we particularly know.” ~ Wendell Berry

  38. “In this state of total consumerism-which is to say a state of helpless dependence on things and services and ideas and motives that we have forgotten how to provide ourselves-all meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth is broken. We do not understand the earth in terms either of what it offers us or of what it requires of us, and I think it is the rule that people inevitably destroy what they do not understand.” ~ Wendell Berry
  39. “It is only by understanding the cultural complexity and largeness of the concept of agriculture that we can see the threatening diminishments implied by the term ‘agribusiness.'” ~ Wendell Berry
  40. “You cannot save the land apart from the people, or the people apart from the land.” ~ Wendell Berry

  41. “No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it. Where we live and who we live there with define the terms of our relationship to the world and to humanity. We thus come again to the paradox that one can become whole only by the responsible acceptance of one’s partiality.” ~ Wendell Berry
  42. “I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief…. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” ~ Wendell Berry
  43. “We need better government, no doubt about it. But we also need better minds, better friendships, better marriages, better communities.” ~ Wendell Berry
  44. “I go among trees and sit still. All my stirring becomes quiet around me like circles on water.” ~ Wendell Berry

  45. “The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming, whose hands reach into the ground and sprout, to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.” ~ Wendell Berry
  46. “I don’t believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and griever alike endure.” ~ Wendell Berry
  47. “Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.” ~ Wendell Berry
  48. “What I stand for is what I stand on.” ~ Wendell Berry

  49. “Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.” ~ Wendell Berry
  50. “The name of our proper connection to the earth is ‘good work,’ for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing.” ~ Wendell Berry Quotes
  51. “The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth – that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community – and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.” ~ Wendell Berry
  52. “It is no more possible to live in the future than it is to live in the past. If life is not now, it is never.” ~ Wendell Berry

  53. “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed. Connection is health. And what our society does its best to disguise from us is how ordinary, how commonly attainable, health is. We lose our health — and create profitable diseases and dependencies — by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving.” ~ Wendell Berry
  54. “The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it or to escape what is bad in it. But we will escape it only by adding something better to it.” ~ Wendell Berry
  55. “True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible… In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.” ~ Wendell Berry
  56. “To be interested in food but not in food production is clearly absurd.” ~ Wendell Berry

  57. “There are moments when the heart is generous, and then it knows that for better or worse our lives are woven together here, one with one another and with the place and all the living things.” ~ Wendell Berry
  58. “For the true measure of agriculture is not the sophistication of its equipment the size of its income or even the statistics of its productivity but the good health of the land.” ~ Wendell Berry
  59. Love is never abstract. It does not adhere to the universe or the planet or the nation or the institution or the profession, but to the singular sparrows of the street, the lilies of the field, “to the least of these my brethren.” Love is not, by its own desire, heroic. It is heroic only when compelled to be. It exists by its willingness to be anonymous, humble, and unrewarded.” ~ Wendell Berry
  60. The earth is what we all have in common.” ~ Wendell Berry

  61. “The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and wasteful.” ~ Wendell Berry
  62. “We do need a ‘new economy,’ but one that is founded on thrift and care, on saving and conserving, not on excess and waste. An economy based on waste is inherently and hopelessly violent, and war is its inevitable by-product. We need a peaceable economy.” ~ Wendell Berry
  63. “How joyful to be together, alone as when we first were joined in our little house by the river long ago, except that now we know each other, as we did not then; and now instead of two stories fumbling to meet, we belong to one story that the two, joining, made. And now we touch each other with the tenderness of mortals, who know themselves” ~ Wendell Berry
  64. “So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute…Give your approval to all you cannot understand…Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years…Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts….Practice resurrection.” ~ Wendell Berry
  65. “The miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes.” ~ Wendell Berry

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