The Peace of Wild Things

 

A blog-o-sphere friend of mine shared a devotional she has recently written after a return from another country, a trip which aroused in her lots of fear and anxiety. And she honored me with use of a couple of thoughts I have shared here recently.

I too have traveled abroad some and always experience the same hyper-vigilance that she described, terrified on some level with the knowledge that I am a “stranger in a strange land.” I always enjoy the experience of being outside of my native land, thrilled with the experience of “difference”, delighted to note how these beautiful people have carved out for themselves a life so different than my own and how it works just as well as does life in my culture. But, nevertheless, there is the under current of fear and anxiety as I’m not in the comfort of my “hearth and home” and don’t have the security provided by my “stuff”, including the commonplaces of day to day life certainly including my native tongue.

Regarding her anxiety, my friend referenced the beautiful observation of Jesus about the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, “how they toil not, neither do they spin” yet are marvelously taken care of. This brought to my mind a beautiful poem by Wendell Berry that often comforts me, particularly his observation that he finds comfort in the midst of despair with “the peace of wild things” who “do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.”

I have used this “taxation” idea so many times in recent years, often in reference to my two beloved dachshunds, Ludwig and Elsa, who always appear so much at comfort inside their own skin, not having any need to “tax their lives with forethought of grief.” They are simply present…in the moment…following the advice of Ram Dass to “be here now.” (I bought for them the doggie translation of Mr. Dass’s book though I felt ripped off as every word was translated as “arf.”)

Now I realize that the deck is stacked in Ludwig and Elsa’s favor in that they don’t have this neo-cortical machine that is always whirring, plotting and scheming to accomplish the desires of an ego. The good Lord has blessed/cursed us with this contrivance though I feel strongly it can be a blessing if we follow the advice of Jesus and remember these beautiful birds and flowers that are present as a prompt to adjust our focus when the stresses of life buffet us.  As always, we must remember, “This too shall pass.”

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

BY WENDELL BERRY

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.

 

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