The Peace of Wild Things (with photos of animals seen on a recent safari)

For me, there is nothing quite like being outdoors, and, especially, seeing wild creatures, as an antidote to anxiety. I don’t think there is anything particularly unusual or strange in that. God’s strangely comforting words to Job involved proclaiming himself as involved and caring in the lives of the wildest and remotest creatures, Psalm 104 celebrates God as the one who knows the comings and goings of animals, and feeds them, and Jesus points his hearers’ attention to the birds and the flowers as evidence of God’s loving and continuous care.

I love Wendell Berry’s poem “The Peace of Wild Things,” which, to me, somehow expresses all of that. Several years ago, when we were enduring particularly stressful times, I memorized it while washing dishes and repeated it to myself in bed when I couldn’t sleep, and when I longed to put on my hiking boots and wander into the wilderness, but had to stay home to change diapers and put kids down for naps. It’s worth reading and re-reading, I think:

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.

{via gratefulness.org}

I am, faith in Jesus notwithstanding, quite expert at “taxing” my life “with forethought of grief,” and that is just one of the reasons I love wild things: they cause me to consider that I am as beloved, or more so, than these creatures that God so loves.

Here are some of the wild things that gave me peace and grace this week:

kingfishers

kingfishers

bathing

bathing

delight

delight

impala

impala. so beautiful.

into still water

into still water

tree

wild, beautiful trees

{All photos by the Stone family. Feel free to share so long as you link back here. Thanks!}

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About Rachel Marie Stone
  • http://logicandimagination.com Melody Harrison Hanson

    I’m sorry I don’t know where you live but it’s beautiful. I love this poet but can only read him in small parts. This one I’ve never seen but related to so much!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rachelmariestone Rachel Marie Stone

      Thanks, Melody! These photos were taken at Liwonde National Park, about an hour from our home in Zomba, Malawi, South-Central Africa, where we’ve been the past 8 months. ;)

      • http://logicandimagination.com Melody Harrison Hanson

        Wonderful, how lucky you are to be in such a beautiful country. Grace & Peace.

  • http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com Robert Martin

    Meanwhile, as you discuss the “peace of wild things”, my own blog post on “peaceful nature” came to mind. :-) Bit of an irony, really…

    http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/peaceful-nature-an-irony/

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rachelmariestone Rachel Marie Stone

      Ha! Yes. I often think of the violence of the created order as it is right now. It’s one of the reasons that I’m not vegetarian, though I do try to eat only humanely raised meat. A vegetarian lion is an impossibility. One day shalom will rule, but not this day. Still, the thought that wild creatures do not suffer anxiety for the future, but take even their MEAT from God (Ps 104) is a comforting one.

      • http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com Robert Martin

        Excellent point. :-)

  • Mary T

    How beautiful! A needed read and moment of rest for me today. Thanks, Rachel.

  • http://timfall.wordpress.com/ Tim

    The thought of day-blind stars waiting with their light is a wonderful analogy for us all, We are Jesus’ light, but we’ll never shine brighter than when we are in his presence. We are waiting for our Light.

    Love the pics too, Rachel. The wildest one is that huge grinning face in the boat!

    Cheers,

    Tim


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