Wendell Berry wrote “The Peace of Wild Things” in 1968, the year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the Civil Rights Act and the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Many felt anxiety and a desire for inner and outer peace. And yet, as with Sigurd Olson’s writings, these words remain relevant half a century later and for the same reasons.
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.
This poem crosses the teal portion of the singing wilderness spiritual map (awareness, beauty, mystery, oneness), then in gratitude for “the grace of the world,” rests in at least a temporary freedom and peace, associated with the gold portion of the map.