The Real Work
by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

There is so much we do not know at all times, of course, but it is particularly salient to us right now. This spring I taught my students that some of the greatest teachers in history (Socrates, Jesus, Confucius) taught in apparent riddles, baffling their listeners as a way of drawing them into the discourse. 

The challenge of interpreting a disquieting parable, of sitting with a Zen Koan, of grappling with an allegory, even of fitting our poetic thoughts into a strict meter, bewitch us and entice us; often, they release insights of a quality and depth we had not thought possible. Advances that seem too advanced for us arise in response to impediments of a size and scope we have never before encountered. For both the individual and her society, it is the not-knowing, the bafflement, that awakens the unplumbed possibility.

-- The Rev. Barbara Talcott, St. Mark’s School

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