Friday, October 24, 2008

the peace of wild things

this morning my aunt fern emma sent me the poem at the end of this post, another one by wendell berry. 

a few years ago, following matt's time at seminary and before i went to grad school for painting, we drove across the country to chester, new jersey. chester is where my aunt fern emma and uncle arthur live, and at the time they were taking care of my grandfather in ohio, so their home was empty. their house is set back from a small, almost country, road, and is surrounded by trees. their backyard is essentially a field. during our stay there we were able to experience some of the stillness of nature that berry expresses in this poem. the deer and their fawns passed through the yard in the evening and early morning, moving slowly and gracefully and pausing the moment they heard a sound or saw movement. it was late fall when we were there, so the fall colors were at first aflame until slowly the trees began to shed their leaves. we would walk along the black river in the afternoon: we saw the work of the beavers on the felled, gnawed tree branches, the ducks as they glided through the water, and the twisted tree roots covering our path intertwined and wearing a fuzzy layer of moss. 

(one sunday as we passed the old mill and wound our way down to the path along the river, we realized that sunday was also a sanctioned hunting day! of course, neither of us was wearing orange, and we heard shots firing in the not so distant distance, so as my mom would say, we high-tailed it out of there!)

aside from hunting days, our season at their home was one of peace, and one in which we were able to rest in the grace of the world.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

1 comment:

  1. this is one of my favorite poems in the world! i love how i have known you for such a short time, but i feel like we have been friends forever and already know things about each other that we couldn't possibly know. you're a transcending reality kind of friend susannah :)


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