Love the cheap comforts, the privileged position, the fame without sacrifice.
Put price tags on their misery and reap your rewards on earth.
Enter their world briefly then retreat to your castle of safety.
Fear thieves and birthday parties outside your gates.
And you will breath from your feet and not your lungs.
Your love will be mechanical and strategic.
The gifts from your heart will be numbered in their books, and charted on tables and graphs.
When they need publicity photos they will call you.
When they need someone to suffer for their cause, they will let you know.
And so, friends, every day do something in secret they won’t ever discover.
Give your heart to the people before learning to quote the company’s mission statement.
Love the Lord your God; do not be afraid to talk to theirs.
Give when no one sees. Take all you have and be poor.
Walk places. Take the bus. Seek sunsets. Enjoy the free show.
Look beggars in the eye and don’t be afraid to talk to sex workers. Make it your life’s goal to love them like Jesus did.
Confess your sins to homeless priests in the street corners. Your salvation depends on it.
Treasure these sacred moments in your heart, and report no trace of them to deaf and mute forms.
Praise mystery. Fear simple answers.
Seek out what they warned you to avoid.
Take heart, for one has overcome the world,
and nothing can separate us from his love.
Look for her in the darkened places
where the world has hidden her away.
Give yourself to her when invitation is free, and the perfumed sheets they assign you will become a stench in your nostrils.
The drinks they pump into you will taste like bile in your mouth.
Be prepared to carry the fiery debt of love from the encounter on your face the next day.
Return to this mystery again and again.
Do not let the fascination wear off.
Do not insult her with an offer to pay.
Watch who she gives to and do the same.
Settle for nothing less than the One who forgave her sins,
and seek him in place of the gods who traffick in certitudes.
Carry her with you in your heart to every conference you attend.
Radiate her light from every podium you step behind.
Never confess her secrets to anyone who will sell them.
Do not repeat what she whispered in your ear.
Savor the secrets with your eyes closed.
In this way you will lose your life.
In this way you will find it.
Remixed from Wendell Berry’s “The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.”