The Peace of Wild Things

by winteryder

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms –

to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

-Viktor E. Frankl

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Last year, I read a beautiful poem by Wendell Berry: The Peace of Wild Things. I’ve had good reason to return to it again and again as 2016 came to a close and as this new year has begun. There’s a deep calm in the eye of a storm, a quiet certainty that lives and thrives while the weather system is raging. There’s an understanding that this, too, shall pass. Berry writes:


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 feed.

I come into the peace of the 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 I am free.


Today, this moment, this small fragment in time is ours. This present moment is all that exists. With courage in the here and now, we rest in the space between thoughts.

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

-Viktor E. Frankl