The Peace of Wild Things
I was at McFarland Park and Soper's Mill yesterday. It was a sunny, spectacular, blustery day. I hope you were able to get out too.
I frequent these places and as such I know the typical attendance. The increase in the number of people on trails is striking! Parents trailing young kids with wagons, colorful sunglasses and too-big hiking boots. Jovial dogs smiling at everything and everyone. Kids playing in creeks, getting lost in the wonder of the woods.
The silver linings of COVID-19 are there if we look for them. Air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have significantly decreased. In some areas water quality has improved. I like to imagine our world taking a huge, cleansing in-breath. Ahhhhh....
Do you notice how you feel when you are in nature? This morning I was in the woods. It was so very quiet. All I could hear were the birds and... wow, all I could hear were the birds. The silence was so soothing. I inhaled deeply and checked-in. I noticed what was happening in my body. I felt calm and peaceful. Just minutes before, anxiety and restlessness were inhabiting my body.
Just minutes before.
Nature is a balm for your soul.
Wendell Berry speaks eloquently of this in his poem, "The Peace of Wild Things". He published it in 1968 but he could have written it yesterday.
"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.
It's a beautiful day today. Go find nature and rest. Even if just for a moment.
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Elizabeth Wade is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Ames, IA. More importantly, she's a regular human being struggling through this crisis, just like you.