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The Peace of Wild Things

In response to the distressing events of the weekend, a friend of mine has put up a poem on Facebook:

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.

by Wendell Berry

My despair in the world lies in the dread that there will be neither wood-drake nor heron, nor any place for them to hunt or live. 'So what?' answers a voice from somewhere. 'You don't have children's lives to worry about. If the world is ruined, it will be after your own death and you leave none to suffer, so you really have no stake in this.'

But I do love this world's beauty, I want it to remain whether we see it or not. It is no less beautiful unobserved.

Wood ducks nearly died out by the 20th century, habitats destroyed, feathers used for hats, flesh eaten. Then efforts were made to save the species, and their populations bounced back. This weekend a friend had a fabulous birthday party that I really enjoyed, and two other friends brought a baby into the world, and all are happy. I hold on to these things, even knowing that the voice in the dark may be right.

It is right. But it doesn't tell the whole story.



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