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
poem by Wendell Berry
Emma, Lucy, my mother and I went to Savannah, Georgia in February of this year so that Emma could participate in the All-State Chorus. As a music major in college and former private teacher of voice, choral music holds the most special place in my heart. I have been lucky enough to have had some talented teachers and directors over the years that introduced me to, and demanded of me some of the most difficult and beautiful sounds ever produced because of the meshing and blending of the human voice. Now, as a parent of a singer, I am torn between giddy excitement at the music and outright jealously that I don’t get to be up there on that stage anymore. The Peace of Wild Things was one of many gorgeously executed works that Emma’s group performed. It spoke to me on so many levels. Brought tears to my eyes. The sounds, the harmonies, the dissonances, the word painting, the structure of the piece was beautiful of course, but it was more the actual poem that struck home.
It was like it was written for me.
How many of us wake in the night, worried or unable to turn off the brain as it churns out the details of the next day, the next week, or worse, the day we just experienced. Oh, is that only me? No … I think not.
We are within the last two weeks of school. For any parent, this is one of the busiest, most exciting, stress-inducing times of the year. I honestly think it is worse than the November/December Holidays. There are parties, award ceremonies, field days, poetry readings, celebrations of every kind. If you have older kids, they have AP exams, final exams, EOCT’s, graduation requirements and rehearsals. Time is precious and every second counts. Everyone is strung out, tired, emotional, exhilarated. The pendulum swings back and forth every day, sometimes every hour.
Oh, what would it be like to escape for a little? To breathe in the peace and calm of our own wild things, if only for a minute or two so that we can then be restored to face the logistics of the rest of the day. I know, because I try to do just this.
I try for quiet. I try for happiness. I try for peace.
It is a necessity to be free.