For me, my job is often my respite. And I work with some of the most wonderful people. Some knew that things were tough and at times, I would find little gifts on my desk . . . cards, candy bars, little trinkets.
But it wasn’t until I opened a plain white envelope and slipped out a piece of paper on which was typed a beautiful poem by Wendell Berry that I burst into tears reading it.
I would not say I am one prone to tears.
But beauty often makes me cry.
As does kindness.
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" is a poem by American poet, novelist, essayist, farmer, and environmentalist Wendell Berry. It was first published in Openings: Poems (1968), one of Berry's early collections of poetry, and was reprinted in 1985 in Berry's Collected Poems, 1957-1982. Written in the first-person, "The Peace of Wild Things" describes how the speaker finds a solution to the anxieties he feels during a sleepless night by going outside to a quiet, peaceful place in nature, near a body of water. In the presence of wildlife, water, and stars, he feels restored to equanimity, his troubles dissolving in the great peace he experiences in nature. "The Peace of Wild Things" is typical of Berry's work as a whole in that it attempts to find a balance between humans and nature; it shows how the natural world can play a vital role in healing the troubled human spirit. The poem belongs in the great tradition of nature writing in American literature, as embodied in the work of such classic authors as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Muir, and modern writers such as Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, Edward Abbey, Loren Eiseley, and many others.
This was given to me by the head of our English department at school. It was exactly what I needed and I plan to keep it with me always.
I am grateful for so much.
Top photo taken in 2008 at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, MD. Second shot taken in 2011 at the property on which we live in Cecil County, MD.