In my quest to become a person of peace, I’ve found a simple little poem by Wendell Berry to be quite profound and insightful. The poem entitled, “February 2, 1968,” is written against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Berry writes,
In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,
war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,
I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.
I just can’t help but smile when I read that poem. In a world dependent upon violence, in the midst of a burgeoning crisis, the wise Wendell Berry protests against death and destruction in the most creative of ways. Instead of raising his voice louder and louder in opposition against the war, instead of holding signs outside of the capital building, instead of writing letters to his congressmen… Berry protests against death and destruction by sewing clover seeds on a rocky hillside.
Instead of buying in to the narrative of violence, death, and despair, Berry sews seeds thereby choosing a narrative of life, hope, and peace. Moreover, the particular seeds that Berry chooses to sew are not large cash crop seeds like corn, or soy that will produce a great yield and feed multitudes of people. Berry simply sews clover seeds, whose chief purposes include returning nitrogen to the soil, providing a nectar source for honeybees, and a grazing source for livestock.
Berry opposes the war, of course, but in his opposition, he refuses to allow his own existence to be determined by violence. He ascends to a greater calling—the calling to become a person of peace—and therein chooses the simple, God-given task of serving and assisting the created order to become more fully what God created it to become.
That simple, humble, patient, obedient sort of work is peacework.