The Peace of Wild Things

In today’s Gospel from Matthew, Jesus asks his disciples, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”

Although we may not all be frightened of the same things, there are many things in this world that terrify us. Climate change. Gun violence. Wars. (You can make your own list.) We worry for the world we are leaving our children – and their children.

How do you let go of that terror? What do you look at to trust that you need not be afraid?

As I sat with the Gospel scene, where Jesus “rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm,” I was reminded of Wendell Berry’s poem, 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.


2 thoughts on “The Peace of Wild Things

  1. This reminds me of the last line of a poem by the late antiquity Chinese poet Han Shan (“Cold Mountain”):

    In my first thirty years of life

    I roamed hundreds and thousands of miles.

    Walked by rivers through deep green grass

    Entered cities of boiling red dust.

    Tried drugs, but couldn’t make Immortal;

    Read books and wrote poems on history.

    Today I’m back at Cold Mountain:

    I’ll sleep by the creek and purify my ears.

    – Trans. by Gary Snyder in his collection, “Rip Rap and Cold Mountain Poems.”

    I carry this line around with me like a scapula.

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