My family and I recently moved from the heart of the city to the mountains. This has been a great gift to my inner life, my soul care. Most mornings I try to get out of the house before my daughter wakes up, while my husband is still sleeping or sitting with his cup of tea. I make a cup of coffee, put it in my mug and I walk out of my house into a morning wonderland.
I walk down our little road into quiet. The trees above me are golden and the bunnies scurry across my path. The natural world stops me in in my hurried tracks, it quiets my anxious mind. The beauty of the world cares for me on days when I do not know how to care for myself.
This morning I hiked up a familiar path near my house and came upon a group of six deer. While five of them ran quickly away, one stopped to look at me. I stood as still as possible and we took each other in for a moment. I was completely there, in that space with that beautiful creature. The world of media, politics, my never ending list of chores and work deadlines.... all of it was out of my mind.
I walk and I listen. I walk and I wonder about the sound of a bird I have not heard before. I walk and the curiosity expands to the state of my own heart, the places and people I have forgotten to notice.
I am reminded of a favorite poem by Wendell Berry. I am reminded that I am part of a larger story, the story of the earth and the story of humanity. Nature has this way of putting us in our place oh so gently in a way that we are nurtured and changed.
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.
The question for each one of us lies in how to encounter this wild beauty which calls us to more quiet and curiosity. When we find it and make space for it in our lives it will change the way we listen, parent and show up in the world. It will care for us in a way that we so desperately need.