30 July 2007

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of 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 for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

by Wendell Berry

I've simply taken it as a symptom of adulthood and a sign of the times that I worry about many things. The war in Iraq. Migrant assimilation. The adjustment of international students. The crisis in Darfur. The overdue "warrant of fitness" for my car. The window I need to replace. The hedges I need to trim. The International Year of the Refugee -- 2.5 million just from Iraq. The fact that I need a job. My parents' well-being. Tara's dad's health. The presentation I should be working on. The list goes on. (We humans are the only "fearcasters" out there.) At times I feel the weight of the world. I thought it would be good to care about many 'important' issues and try to love many different people. I thought it would feel good to want to change the world, but it is a rather heavy burden to try and shoulder.

I try to get out and run two or three days a week. Often I take the coastal walk up from our house. (Every direction is up from our house; jogging has taught me that.) Halfway, there is a platform overlooking the cliff, perched high above the harbour. It makes for a good stopping point, especially after running up the thirty odd stairs it takes to get to the platform. To me, it has become a sacred place, where I stop to pray and survey the quiet harbour. Just yesterday, as I prayed, I watched a couple of brilliantly coloured Rosellas squawk and poke around the top of the pines. Moments later, two Grey Herons soared by. They could've been the prototype for the hang glider the way they stiffen their wings and drift from side to side. Down in the shallows at the water's edge I could see shorebirds and ducks. The still waters of the harbour seemed to be a mirror reflection of the sky, casting back the same steely, shimmering blue.

For a time, I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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