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
This poem...I had never heard it before, and yet it resonated with the chord my heart was playing just last night. I could feel the despair setting in...had I released my children into this world too soon? We home-schooled exclusively for nine years. Last year, the two eldest children went off to middle school, and this year our ten year old is in a local elementary school. Just the youngest girls remain at home for the day with me.
The past two years have been punctuated by times of deep mourning for the times we had all together. It feels like my family is split into tiny pieces throughout the day. Sometimes my heart can't bear the feeling of being in so many places at once and I crumble inside.
And yet this time has also been permeated by a deep sense of peace; an understanding that only comes from resting in the truth that my children are cared for and loved... not just by me, but by God, family, friends, neighbors, teachers, 4H leaders, sunday school teachers, mentors. The ripples just keep going wider and wider. I was not given these children to clutch tightly to me like a baby's blanket. I am not meant to hide them in a fortress or stubbornly cling to my need to provide, even as I am depleted and weary.
Have I prepared them well enough? Can one ever really be prepared enough for anything? Maybe equipped is a better word. A bird does not prepare himself for the day ahead, worrying about where he will find this worm or whether the raindrops will hinder his flight. Instead, he is diligent as he searches for food he does not doubt he will find and is confident in the downy fluff that keeps him dry and warm. This kind of confidence is what I have seen growing inside my children as they move out of the comforts of our home into the unpredictability of life.
And so today, as I sat with my friends, drank coffee, talked about children and homeschooling and our youth and the state of the world in general... as I stood with them and husked the most beautiful corn I have ever seen...I rested.
I rested in the same grace that Wendell Berry must have felt as he lay there near the water. We marveled together at each individual kernel of this rare heirloom variety of corn known as "Glass Gem." We noticed the spot on each kernel where the silk had been. It reminded me a bit of a child's belly button!
There were ears as blue as a pair of Levi jeans, and others more beautiful than the most brilliant rocks found along the shores of the Sound. Each kernel glowed with a potential and hope that inspired thankfulness in my heart for a Creator who cares enough to make light and color, texture and taste, and a capacity within us all to love all of it.
And I knew that my heart might not feel any different. It will occasionally feel defeated, lonely and despairing as life changes around me and my children walk their various paths in life. More often though, it will beat steadily within as I move forward in the faith it takes daily to get out of bed and do the day's duties. And sometimes it will occasionally skip a beat with the kind of joy, wonder and anticipation a beautiful little glass gem seed can inspire as I see them reach the potential I saw gleaming in their eyes as toddlers. This means that I can sit beside my husband, nestling my head into his shoulder at the end of each day and have true peace.