The Great Cloud of Witnesses
“We are humans – which mean we not only have problems but are problems.”
This is Wendell Berry, explaining why mechanical or technical solutions to the problems we face are at best insufficient and at worst dangerous. Since fully commiting ourselves to anything, a place, a discipline, a life’s work, a child, a family, a community, requires something akin to love, Berry strips us of the illusion that what we need is more knowledge. Which is not a recommendation for ignorance. He continues,
“But our decisions can also be informed – our loves both limited and strenghtened – by those patterns of value and restraint, principle and expectation, memory, familiarity, and understanding that, inwardly, add up to character and, outwardly, to culture. Because of these patterns, and only because of them, we are not alone in the bewilderments of the human condition and human love, but have the company and the comfort of the best of our kind, living and dead.“
Tomorrow is the Sunday closest to All Saint’s Day this year. White Plains Presbyterian Church will be celebrating the great cloud of witnesses, and remembering those who have inspired us. I thank Berry for this reminder that what we need in the church for character, culture and spiritual formation is the living examples of saints who have gone before us and the saints who surround us.
Who are the saints who inspire you? Share them below.