A Sabbath Mood
Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day,
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.
And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace.
That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.
When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.
Some years ago I took a liking to Wendell Berry, the old farmer-philosopher whose poetry I find both simple and profound. He often "speaks my mind," as Quakers say. I read his poem "This Day" today and it helped me climb out of a hole.
To be old and crippled up is a pain—literally—and mornings are the hardest part of the day. Few things work and those that do work hurt and the day beyond looks impossibly hard. The ground is cursed; "The hand must ache, the face must sweat."
But Berry notes a oft-forgotten factor: the joy "foreseen" beyond each day's labor—the joy that comes from knowing that it's not by our efforts that leaf or grain come to fruition, but solely through God's grace. When "the field has been tilled and left to grace," we will, in due time, reap the harvest of God's labor. "Great work is done while we’re asleep" ("He gives to those he loves while they sleep"
Thus when we "work well" (resting fully on God's grace), there is a "Sabbath mood that rests on our day, and finds it good." And so "though "hand must ache, the face must sweat," this day is a good day after all.