Happy Birthday, Henry!

Photo of replica of Thoreau's cabin: image by FourPeaks

July 12 (1817) is the birthday of Henry David Thoreau - an important man to many and certainly in my neck of the (Walden) woods.

I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life.
And see if I could not learn what it had to teach
and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived.
-Henry David Thoreau in Walden

It was on July 4th, 1845 that Thoreau took up residence in his cabin on Walden Pond. Thoreau spent under $30.00 to build his modest home whose footprint was 10'x15'. With only two knives and forks, one spoon, three plates and a single cup he wasn't planning on doing a lot of entertaining! In his garden he raised beans. Indeed: a simple life...

Take a few moments with this simple poem... Have you found Walden where you are?

Going To Walden

It isn't very far as highways lie.
I might be back by nightfall, having seen
The rough pines, and the stones, and the clear water.
Friends argue that I might be wiser for it.
They do not hear that far-off Yankee whisper:
How dull we grow from hurrying here and there!

Many have gone, and think me half a fool
To miss a day away in the cool country.
Maybe. But in a book I read and cherish,
Going to Walden is not so easy a thing
As a green visit. It is the slow and difficult
Trick of living, and finding it where you are.

-Mary Oliver in the collection, New and Selected Poems: Volume One



  1. Fr. A...

    It occurs to me that you may well have provided a jumping off point for next Sunday's homily...and the need to discover "a deserted place."

    At the very least, you've given this homilist ample food for thought!

    Thank you!

    Dcn. G.

  2. I thought of this post during the weekend when I was on retreat. Not for just the obvious reasons either!

    Apparently, Isaac Heckman, founder of the Paulists (I was at their retreat house on Lake George) was good friends with Thoreau. Apparently, Thoreau was not that happy when Heckman decided to become a Catholic priest... Or so the Paulists tell me!

    Fran from St Edward the Confessor


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