Today I remind a student writing about life’s roadblocks that “the impeded stream is the one that sings.” Wendell Berry wrote this in his poem “The Real Work”:
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
I love thinking of that stream trickling and singing because of the rocks and branches blocking her path. There’s something so beautiful about coming to a roadblock, a detour, and a true obstacle that leaves you baffled with no sense of where to go or what to do. So you begin to make your way–as best you know how–following God more deeply and more authentically because you have come to the end of all your possibilities.
I love thinking of our “real work” as this posture of not knowing what to do but keeping our eyes on God–the best, most real, and most true journey of our lives–and singing as we go.
“The Real Work” by Wendell Berry, from Standing by Words. © 1983