We should all spend time outside each day. I don’t know about you, but I spend too many hours indoors.
As a remedy, I sometimes I work at the kitchen table near the propped-open door to the deck. Hearing the wind rustling through the trees and birds fighting over seeds at the feeder does something for my heart. It’s not all the way outside, but it’s close.
Long ago, I posted this poem, one of my favorites, on the bulletin board at my desk, the one I don’t actually work at very often. 🙂 Enjoy.
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.
I wonder if so often when I misplace my peace, if the answer is simply to spend more time outside.
I say I wonder, but I already know what kind of person I become when I spend extended minutes under the sky.
There I see the rest of the beauty, and it’s not that I forget the chaos of the day. It’s not that the challenges disappear or the discouragement dissipates.
Out there, I realize I can walk away for a bit and the whole thing doesn’t all fall down.
Ohhh, right–it wasn’t me holding everything together.
In the presence of still water or even angry waves, I remember I have no control over the things I fear. I remember Who does control all things–He Who is good and true and beautiful and eternal. Who is acquainted with all this growing old and wearing away and falling down and rising up again.
He Who endures forever and ever, Who is seen through all this worldly beauty.
The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine on us. Psalm 118:27
It takes a few minutes, but I confess the truth. I’ve been taxing my life again, imagining losses that haven’t even happened. Why do I continue to repeat this?
Once again, I return to the wild. I take a walk in the woods past the yard, thick with green and a melody of snapping sticks underfoot. I imagine snakes hiding out here like sharks in the ocean, hoping they’re at least as rare.
Somehow I’ve left the rest of the world behind me. I come into the peace of wild things, and their holy message sinks ever deeper to my core.
Like Berry, I rest in the grace of the world–and I’m free.
Name the forethoughts of grief with which you tend to tax your own life.