The Peace of Wild Things

The Peace of Wild Things

Coming into the peace of wild things in disturbed times.

Awake to Beauty

Wherever we may be Nature is always there. Sitting in his garden the poet hears a late bee buzzing contentedly to itself in a bean-flower. Then an early evening bat searches the air for moths and a solitary rook flies silently overheard on its way homeward to its roost. These simple things set him thinking:

Nature ne’er deserts the wise and pure;
No plot so narrow be, but Nature there,
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty!

From Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘This lime-tree bower my prison’.
Swan and cygnets crossing road

The Peace of Wild Things

Two songs have cheered my heart last week, hearing my first chiff chaff right on cue at the end of March and a first blackcap starting its song as if rehearsing for the first time after a winter break away. It seems that we humans too, need to rehearse and restore our ‘songs’ in this unhappy world. Songs of sorrow can, with God’s help, be turned to joy. What a joy it was to catch this family of swans and cygnets crossing the road in the New Forest a few years ago!

A robin has nested in our neighbour’s garden. Its cheerful song has been a reminder to listen less to the news and to our noisy human world and, instead, to listen more to the peace of wild things. This is our Creator’s cure for worry:

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature (or ‘span of life’)? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the flowers of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not  arrayed like one of these.

From Matthew’s Gospel 6 :26-28
A Coma butterfly

Nature is full of simple beauties. Silent and hardly noticed by us, yet full of charm. The first dandelion in a wild corner, some bright cheerful little celandines and dog violets under the hedge. Or a solitary daisy flowering in the lawn, a buddleia bush on a wartime bomb site covered in butterflies, or those red poppies flowering in a shell crater in a Flanders field. Finding a bird’s nest in a hedge or hearing a hedgehog snuffling around the bushes at night, such are the sights and sounds in abundance for those who have eyes and ears to notice.

Dandelion clock

Nature’s Healing Balm

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

From William Wordsworth’s ‘Intimations of Immortality’

Nature’s balm can bring healing, peace and joy if we allow it. I want to keep my heart awake to beauty. Nature is full of it to those who look at the details. ‘The peace of wild things’ is everywhere.

Evening calm at Grasmere, Lakeland.

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

American poet Wendell Berry’s ‘The Peace of Wild Things‘ from his book of the same title.

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