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.

The Peace of Wild Things And Other Poems (Penguin, 2018)

I spend each morning awakening in a landscape that seamlessly slips from dark of night to the soft, watercolor brushstrokes of dawn. The stark black and shades of grey, shifting ever so gradually that my city mind, seeing this transition, can almost feel the subtle movement of the planet. Within the space of three hundred breaths I watch the magic of light and life explode on the canvas before me.

Waking in the wild, where the wind brushes my face, the sounds of early birds call out the beginning of a new day, the scent of water and earth still releasing the heat of the previous day, the sight of stars slowing dipping and fading from space behind the mountain ridge, and the sun cresting the eastern Mesa, starts my day with wonder .

It doesn’t happen every day. And it surely doesn’t happen in the city-home life I maintain when I am not out with the eagles . But when it does, my life is very different.

I remember hearing a story about an artist who was so prolific and profound and when asked how he was inspired, he told of taking his pallet and canvas out to someplace where wildness lives, be it a park or a forest and he would just sit. And he would sit. And soon…the magic happened. It wasn’t that he had a preconceived idea about what he was to paint, but rather the act of letting go.

I find myself each morning traversing the distance from camp to nest, the light is beginning to shift from dark hues of grey to hints of pale luminescent colors. I walk and I pause. I walk and I sit and every stop is an opportunity to let go of my thoughts and watch the morning.

Sitting atop the remains of the Salado ruins, my view extends to the lake stretching 20 miles to the south and behind me the rim of the Sierra Ancha peaks begin to glow. Below me is the slender riparian area and to the north is the eagle nest.

I take my time on this perch. I sit in stillness and watch the landscape. My eyes rest in a soft gaze and soon my brain begins to detach from the endless chatter. There are no voices other than my own out here. But no, I am wrong. I hear little sounds in the brush, resonant sounds from down lake and I become aware of the wild things all around me.

I now know what Wendell Berry knew. When life is rushed, when life is too much, I find peace in this wild space among the wild things and in that moment, grace abounds and I am free.

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