May 16 2021

Daniel Berrigan – Credentials

Published by at 7:47 am under Poetry

by Daniel Berrigan

I would it were possible to state in so
few words my errand in the world: quite simply
forestalling all inquiry, the oak offers his leaves
largehandedly. And in winter his integral magnificent order
decrees, says solemnly who he is
in the great thrusting limbs that are all finally
one: a return, a permanent riverandsea.

So the rose is its own credential, a certain
unattainable effortless form: wearing its heart
visibly, it gives us heart too: bud, fullness and fall.

— from Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings (Modern Spiritual Masters), by Daniel Berrigan / Edited by John Dear

/ Image by Proseuche /

Since the last few poems I’ve sent out have been little morsels, I thought I would send out a bonus poem today…

In this poem we are given a couple of images to illustrate how we should understand ourselves and be in the world. In other words, what are our credentials? By what authority and quality do we come into the world and act in the world?

Like the oak tree, we should offer our leaves “largehandedly,” giving fully of ourselves and our very nature to the world. And, in winter, in bareness, the essential form that we are comes through. By not holding back our true nature, by being fully ourselves, even when when the world demands all of us, that is when we “return” and recognize that we are part of a grand, harmonious unity, “a permanent riverandsea.”

We are our own credentials. Our credentials, our spiritual stamp of approval, is there within us, in our most natural form. Like the rose, we must unfold, be as we are, allowing our innermost heart to become visible, to be seen, to let its beauty be present in the world, bringing healing to the world and to ourselves.

So the rose is its own credential, a certain
unattainable effortless form: wearing its heart
visibly, it gives us heart too: bud, fullness and fall.

Have a beautiful day, with a blossoming heart.

Recommended Books: Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings (Modern Spiritual Masters) Prayer for the Morning Headlines: On the Sanctity of Life and Death And the Risen Bread: Selected and New Poems 1957-1997 Tulips in the Prison Yard: Selected Poems of Daniel Berrigan Prison Poems: Selected Poems of Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Berrigan, Daniel Berrigan poetry, Christian poetry Daniel Berrigan

US (1921 – 2016) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

If you’re not familiar with who Father Daniel Berrigan is, I highly recommend you look him up — you’ll find several excellent articles and past interviews. Daniel Berrigan was one of those great souls to whom we in the modern era owe so much, alongside other great spiritual figures like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, and Dorothy Day, people who put their beliefs and their bodies on the line to transform society and awaken a wider compassion in the world. Father Berrigan was one of the early leaders in courageous protest against the Vietnam war and the draft. He worked throughout the Cold War against the proliferation and normalization of nuclear weapons.

He did that thing that makes us most uncomfortable about the Christian pathway: He actually lived it, not just in his head, but on the ground. He rolled up his sleeves and bore his chest as he embraced the poor, spoke up for the vulnerable, and opposed institutional cruelty and violence, done boldly, humbly, amidst the complexities of the modern world and dangers of modern power structures.

I continue to be inspired and challenged and humbled by Father Berrigan. His tireless work for peace and justice and humanity continues to reverberate and benefit us all.

More poetry by Daniel Berrigan

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Daniel Berrigan – Credentials”

  1. marrobon 16 May 2021 at 8:55 am

    Good Morning Ivan,

    This is the best Sunday non-sermon . Thank you.

    I think I’ll re-read Father Berrigan’s ( who walked his talk) words,
    watch the neighbour’s rare white lilac blossoms waving in the breeze, even
    breathe in the pollen ..and stop trying to fix
    anything: from a dripping tap to an aching world
    and best of need to fix myself.

    Yep, let the heart blossom…best sermon yet.
    Thanks again and very best wishes for your health and safety.

  2. Rosson 16 May 2021 at 9:28 am

    I loved the poem and your commentary, it brought to mind that to me, part of our credentials, is the fact that we are all here, “on purpose” “at Gods command” so it’s not so much about “finding our purpose” as an act, as something to be done, God’s already done that for us, all we need to do is accept His loving grace , afforded to us, and simply “be” like the Rose, or the Tree, it’s by simply being, being here, on purpose that our true purpose is both known and revealed without any effort on our part. It’s all so beautiful…Gods unfailing and enduring love for His creation……Thank You so much…Rose

  3. Barbaraon 17 May 2021 at 11:38 am

    Loved of the image of the oak tree’s largehandedness and the rose’s wholeheartedness. These are the credentials for all of us, to give all without counting the cost. Just to be who we are authentically.

  4. Joanon 13 Jun 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for the poem and your commentary. These times beg for the openness
    of the rose and all of Mother Nature’s abundance beauty and generosity.

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