I’ve had the joy of reviewing Dan Berrigan’s generative and joyful life this past week. On Friday, I’ll take the 3:00 a.m. train from D.C. to New York to celebrate his resurrection. Below is a list by Dan that has inspired me since I first found it in the mid-1980s.
Daniel Berrigan: Ten Commandments for the Long Haul
1. Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).
2. Don’t be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?
3. Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they’re growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.
4. About practically everything in the world, there’s nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.
5. On a long drive, there’s bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don’t go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don’t be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.
6. Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don’t love yourself. They just endure. So do you.
7. About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus’ specialty and he was heard to say: “Take up your couch and walk!”
8. When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don’t use the earphones. Then you’ll be able to see what’s going on, but not understand what’s happening, and so you’ll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.
9. Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.
10. Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.
Excerpted from Ten Commandments for the Long Haul by Daniel Berrigan, SJ, (Abingdon Press, 1981)