When can we Have Some Peace?
Updated: Jun 20, 2020
Just when demonstrations turned peaceful this week and the stock market improved, coronavirus cases surged in Florida, Texas, and Arizona and a too-early tropical storm battered Louisiana.
When can we have a little peace? Perhaps this exercise will help:
Think of a recent time when you were not anxious. What were you doing? If you did more of that today, would you have more peace?
Maybe you felt less anxious because of something you were not doing. If you stopped doing it, would you have more peace?
Friday morning, I felt enormous peace when I went out to get the paper. It had rained just before dawn and droplets on each leaf shimmered in the sunshine. What I was NOT doing was reading the paper. When I opened the paper and started to read about all the suffering around us, I could feel my anxiety rising. If I stopped reading or listening to news some mornings, I’d be less anxious.
My sense of calm was restored after breakfast. Before I meditate, I read a page or two of poetry, currently Rumi and Rilke. I would have more peace if I read more poetry.
I came across Wendell Barry's poem, “The Peace of Wild Things" recently. It is SO appropriate for our current situation. See if reading this doesn’t reduce any anxiety or stress you’ve been carrying:
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.
Listen to Wendell Berry reading it: https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/04-the-peace-of-wild-things-by