With open eyes

 

The President's garden in bloom.  Princeton University.  My photo.
The President’s garden in bloom. Princeton University. My photo.

A friend of mine recently posted the Wendell Berry poem below to her blog and the imagery and the message were of great wisdom to me.

My mother has become an avid birder later in life, and we like to tease her about her enthusiasm for spotting a new species and for being so invested in something as seemingly trivial as watching birds.

But there is a blue heron that lives down by the canal behind our apartment, and I have often gasped as he takes flight with his massive wings and graceful body.  Just the other day, my friend and I trolled the canal with our babies and laid eyes upon him.  I fretted because my fussy daughter is not always a great birder as her cries tend to scare the fowl away.  This time, though, as we drew closer and she cried, the heron took flight, and so we got to follow him down the course of the canal, witnessing his majestic flight not once, but many times over.

Birding is a habit of intention, and I believe it not only calls you to notice and alight upon things you wouldn’t have had you not been looking, but like any great practice, it also changes your perspective.  As I read this poem, I began to give thanks for all the ways God transforms our limited perspective if we are simply willing to withdraw from “the despair of the world” and “come into the peace of wild things.”  What grace there is in our everyday circumstances and in this world God has made, if we only look upon it with open eyes.

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.

by Wendell Berry

 

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