I’ve just spent the past week on a news-fast. I am certain that during this time the world has seen and recorded the usual mix of mayhem, tragedy, unimaginable suffering, political posturing and upheaval. I’ll hear it all soon enough. For now, though, I would like to report some alternative news and serve as an eyewitness reporter.
In and around a tiny farm pond in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, life is renewing itself. Tadpoles are predictably, but nonetheless miraculously growing the legs of the adult frogs they are soon to be, red-winged blackbirds are building their family home, and Spring Peepers are filling (and I mean FILLING!) the night with their exuberant mating songs. I anticipated this interlude as eight days of silence. Happily, the silence is mine: the wild things are making their own energetic, joyful noises. I am listening. And oh, I’ve watched the lupine flowering, row by row, amazing bud to stunning bloom.
In his poem, The Peace Of Wild Things, Wendell Berry writes:
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of 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 for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Here, I lie down where there is a green heron, not a great, the beauty of a mallard pair, still water, and above me, a Supermoon dancing with night-clouds. Presence…palpable, profound.
Resting in the grace of this world is not a luxury; it is a necessity. If we are to do the work that is uniquely ours to do, walk gently on this earth, be people of love, of peace, of justice, we have to fill up our empty wells, restore our vision, mend the rips in our souls, and make time to do this, the essential, rather than spend our furiously frenzied lives doing the merely important. The life being renewed here is also my own. How easily I forget my inextricable connection to all of life in the illusory crush of my day to day dramas and struggles. This is an antidote to the fear that keeps us spinning.
So I am committing myself to daily communion with Wild Things, to an ongoing immersion into their peacefulness. I promise to look, and listen, be present and teachable. Even from my customary urban perch, there are so many promising instructors: life insistently abounds all around us. Every day, I’m going to cultivate the freedom that comes from resting in the grace of the world. For my good, and the good of all.