“Hayden seems to be at his work, or in it, as it seems to be in him, all the time... When I am talking with him, he is entirely present to me as the poet he is. When I am reading him, I am hearing his voice.” - Wendell Berry - “Imagination in Place,” page 61
In other words, he practiced what he preached and preached what he practiced. He had congruence in life. This is one thing that Wendell Berry has taught and is teaching me in life. Bono says, “It’s hard to listen while you preach,” but it is possible with careful attention. I want to be the same man inwardly in any and all situations. A word other than congruence might be sincere. Congruence means to be compatible and in harmony. To be sincere is to be genuine. The two go hand-in-hand and I like them both very much. I want both these words to be a part of who I am in life.
Wendell Berry is an author, poet, farmer, teacher, conservationist, activist, husband, father and grandfather. He is a neighbor and a friend. He is so many things and yet one man, striving for congruence and sincerity in life. You can read about this desire of his in any one of his writings. You can hear this in his speeches. And I’d be willing to bet if you knew him, you’d be able to see this in his life, even if not perfectly; there would be a careful striving for congruence.
As a husband, father, friend, pastor, board member, son, reader and writer I want to be the same. I want to fight for congruence and sincerity in this life. One of the greatest tools I have for this is the seeking of forgiveness. As I learn to ask forgiveness, with meaning and not just for show, this allows me to have freedom to be myself and allow myself to change. It allows myself to come into a life of congruence and sincerity, as there are always areas I’m missing in this striving. True sincerity can be honest about it’s anger and other shortcomings.
We all have blind spots where this congruence or sincerity don’t fit into our lives. It is an ongoing work. It is a slow work. It is an intentional and deliberate work. We get to be about this honest work and fight for it in our life. If you, like me, desire this, Wendell Berry will be of some help. The beauty of this work is that it always lies before us. Perfection in living a congruent or sincere life, does not exist. However, progress does and so may we progress.