I came across this poem some years ago in an issue of Oprah magazine. I loved it so much that I wrote it down on a card and whenever I felt stressed would take it out and read it. The words soothed me like a lullaby and the world became stilled and unhurried and so did I. I’ve been in need of it many times – it has lost none of its power. I hope it does the same for you too.
So many people struggle with the stress of everyday living without it being compounded by health issues, job losses, bereavement and any other number of challenges that we face as we go through life. I’ve learnt that it’s important to find your own way to soothe yourself. Walking the dog is one of mine, hugging my grandchildren another and reading poems like this yet another. You don’t need to do anything energetic or bend yourself into a pretzel if that’s not your style. Find that ‘thing’, your ‘thing’ and put it in your mental health ‘first aid box’ for when you need it.
When despair for the world grows in meand I wake in the night at the least soundin fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,I go and lie down where the wood drakerests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.I come into the peace of wild thingswho do not tax their lives with forethoughtof grief. I come into the presence of still water.And I feel above me the day-blind starswaiting with their light. For a timeI rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things” from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998.