The Peace of Wild Things (Wendell Berry)

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

Wood drake (illustrated by Corrie Haffly)

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, “The Peace of Wild Things” from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998.


I have had an Emperors-New-Clothes fear of poetry for a long, long time: afraid I was the only one not understanding what the poet was trying to say. But more and more, I am encouraged to dip my toes into the waters of poetry and adventure in that world a while. It’s time.

I’m dedicating this November to exploring poetry: a poem a day, each day. I’m choosing ones that resonated with me in some way: that made me smile, think, or feel. And I’d love to invite you to join me to walk into this world of worded beauty.

Here’s something extra special, my wonderful friend Corrie (who illustrated each of the posts for the Courageous One series), was looking for a theme to do a November-drawing-month herself. I asked if she’d like to illustrate each day’s poem. She said Yes. I did a jig. She did a jig. We are excited.

So, for November: each day a poem, and a drawing.

I hope you enjoy this adventure. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am 🙂

The gift of the forgotten commandment

In Sunday School I learned the 10 commandments, but really there were only 9.

Honor God, yes. No idols. No cussin’, lying’, murderin’, adultery, disobeyin’ or wanting-what-she’s-got. But that one about the Sabbath? Skip that. We aren’t legalistic about Sundays.

The Sabbath got thrown in the same basket as prohibitions against shellfish, bacon and mixed cloth: Jewish artefacts left at the cross; and there it remained for the first two decades of my walk with God.

Then someone began talking about the radical idea that God had given the commandments to teach Israel a path of life and blessing. Instead of the me-focused social order of human rights, God gave an others-focused social order of human responsibility. The loving obligation to refrain from stealing did the same job as protecting the right to property, except it was better.

Laws for blessing, not burden.

Honor your Mother and Father that it may go well with you

And so, too, my view on the Sabbath has changed. I now understand that Sabbath does not mean Sunday, or even the more authentic Saturday. It means a designated time to rest, and God’s injunction that we should rest is meant to bless us, not burden us.

We are not ruled by the Sabbath, we are graced by it.

We do not belong to the Sabbath, it belongs to us.

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. – Mark 2:27.

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. – Hebrews 4:9

I wish you the gift of God’s rest today. May you slow down enough to let Him fill your cup and lead you beside a stream of quiet water.

The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.

Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.

Wendell Berry (1934-)

20131019-202949.jpgThis post is day 20 of 31 Days of Belonging. For a full list of posts, click here.