09 May 2009

poem for mother's day

I was not a particularly rebellious son, but I still understand where this poem lives. And the last two stanzas are huge. I listened to this on “The Writer’s Almanac” this afternoon as I was driving home.

To My Mother
by Wendell Berry

I was your rebellious son,
do you remember? Sometimes
I wonder if you do remember,
so complete has your forgiveness been.

So complete has your forgiveness been
I wonder sometimes if it did not
precede my wrong, and I erred,
safe found, within your love,

prepared ahead of me, the way home,
or my bed at night, so that almost
I should forgive you, who perhaps
foresaw the worst that I might do,

and forgave before I could act,
causing me to smile now, looking back,
to see how paltry was my worst,
compared to your forgiveness of it

already given. And this, then,
is the vision of that Heaven of which
we have heard, where those who love
each other have forgiven each other,

where, for that, the leaves are green,
the light a music in the air,
and all is unentangled,
and all is undismayed.

From Entries, by Wendell Berry. © Pantheon Books, 1994.


  1. Beautiful poem Jared! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Anonymous11:49 PM

    I can really relate to this poem as the mother of two grown sons. My kids weren't rebellious either and we've always been a very close family. My oldest is very tender hearted and took in every kid who every got picked on. Today he manages a large construction site and is very well respected. Mostly because he learned to be a compassionate person. He takes care of his employees.

    My youngest son is an entertainer and servant at heart. He volunteers at his church a lot, has two jobs, and goes to school full time. He's going to be a writer. He's the funniest person I ever met and spreads joy to all he meets.

    They sent me flowers for Mother's Day. It's a Spring bouquet with sunflowers and daisies as some of the showiest in the bunch.

    I was out walking my grand-dog on Friday when up pulled the delivery guy in my driveway and then dropped off a beautiful arrangement of fresh cut flowers. Well I sobbed and called them both immediately. I have a dil too and she loves me also. I'm lucky to be the mom of my children.

    So time sweetens any grumpy days of raising kids. I honestly don't remember any one particular trying moment with either of them. I suppose there were the normal hiccups that go along with being a 2 yr old or 16 for that matter. But I wish to do it all over again with grandkids.

    The only negative I remember with my youngest was when he came out of the bathroom carrying his dinner plate and the peas were missing. I found them floating in the toilet. They don't flush well.

    For my oldest it was the time he showed up at home in the middle of a school day. He left because the teacher was being unreasonable which I later found out--she was. And he took the matter in to his own hands and walked home rather than put up with any more nonsense.

    Both describe my kids extremely well. I am so fortunate to be the mom and mother-in-law to these awesome children. Thank you for the poem which says it so well---love is the greatest of all gifts.

  3. Anonymous11:50 PM

    Beautiful poem, Jared. Perfect for the occasion. :)

  4. Jared, I hope you sent your mom this poem for mothers day...I'm sure she already knows this but it's so wonderful to see it written out! Wendell Berry sure knew how to get to the heart of the matter, didn't he?!