Tuesday, January 12, 2010

...when despair grows in me...

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of 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 for their light.

For a time
I rest in the grace of the world,
and am free.

~Wendell Berry~

My daughter who had surgery for cancer in November, 2008 is waiting this month for the results of new tests being done in Sweden by a doctor who is said to be  the top specialist in the field.  His world-renowned lab is examining her excised tumor and will tell her if it is the type that is more likely to metastasize, or not.  She is very calm and *Byron Katie-esque about it all.  I am doing a lot of deep breathing and often find myself sitting soaking in the view of the mountain outside my window.  Its living presence is a gentle reminder that 'what is, is' and as my daughter says, 'what will be, will be'.  Wendell Berry's poem is a comforting reminder that we can always rest in the peace and grace of nature.

* Byron Katie is the author of "Loving What Is".  If you scroll down my sidebar you will see it and others of her books listed there.


Wendell Berry (born August 5, 1934, Henry County, Kentucky) is an American man of letters, academic, cultural and economic critic, and farmer. He is an author of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is also an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.


  1. I wish you and your daughter health and peace whatever the outcome is. Hope everything will turn out great..

    SUch a heartfelt post with deep passion and the fear that only a Mother can know for her child. I will look out my window today at the brook and trees and creatures about with the sun's light perhaps promising warmth and hope and I will think of you and your daughter and I will pray.

    Love and hope for us all

  3. What helplessness -- wanting to be able to spare your child pain or illness or mistakes and not being able. It's like having to go around with your heart outside your body to have children, isn't it? (p.s. I second your "must-read" recommendation for the China Study. I'm about 80 percent of the way toward vegetarianism now, though I'm finding it hard to give up milk).

  4. The Wendell Berry poem is beautiful, and one I can relate to. Nature is where I find my solace. I have a special place where I go when I need to find myself and rediscover the beauty of the present. The trees and the birds and other residents of nature's world never fail to remind me of what matters in my world.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your daughter as you await her results.

  5. There is so much beauty here. Thank you for reminding us that we should all take time to rest in it. My worries this week have all been so small in comparison to the concerns for your child's well being. And yet, I find myself getting swept up in petty things and losing focus. I wish you and your daughter health and joy.

  6. Bonnie, even though I'm a mother I can't put myself in your shoes, but oh, how hard it must be for you to wait and think. Accepting that we cannot fix everything for our kids is one of the toughest lessons of parenthood, isn't it?

    My warmest thoughts and wishes for your dear daughter's recovery are with you both. She does sound like a remarkable young woman (you mentioned some time ago how much research she has done into this disease and that she has been very active in raising its profile).

    I hope you continue to find quietness in the words of poets.

  7. This is a beautiful post!
    I will be praying for your daughter and for you!

  8. love the quote...i would probably find solace in those mountains as well. but i still believe in miracles. hope and healing her way...

  9. Thinking of you Bonnie and of your daughter too.
    This comes with love.

  10. I'm sending all my love to you and your daughter, and hope for the best possible outcome.

  11. We too have been patiently waiting for biopsy results...my husband received good news yesterday, I wish the same Bonnie, for your lovely daughter.

  12. bonnie - i'm a dad before everything else - absolutely everything and so my wishes, prayers and blessings pour out to you. steven

  13. Lovely thoughts Bonnie. My best wishes for your daughter.

  14. I think the saying sums life completely
    "what is, IS" I know the waiting is hard..and its difficult to remain in the present..as nature does..we are humans after all..but I know you will survive this and good news will come..I send you positive energy to you and your daughter. Marlene

  15. I just love that Wendell Berry poem. It's been among my very favorite poems (admittedly, a growing list).

    I can only imagine how painful it must be for you to go through this for/with your daughter. I can imagine only that there are no words to describe the pain...

  16. The photo is beautiful and I hope for the best for your daughter. And you.

  17. Such heart wrenching news, Bonnie. I cannot imagine such pain myself. My heart goes out to you and your daughter. May she be well.

  18. Thank you so much - each and every one of you - for your kind expressions.

    I do succeed most of the time in relating TO my fear and not FROM it.

    My daughter is recently engaged, feeling strong, enjoying her beautiful little girls and her new 'vegan' lifestyle. She is very grounded in her beliefs that she will handle what comes, as it comes - be it good health or another health challenge. She teaches me each day how to live joyfully in the only moment we really have - the present one.

    But sometimes when I am alone - I let Wendell's words comfort me.

  19. What is it about water, or mountains, or just beautiful scenery and peace and quiet that soothes the soul?

    I pray that things go well for your daughter - I can't imagine what both she and you are going through right now. I will say a prayer for you both.

  20. Your pictures are so lovely and accompany well the poem. Nature can bring so much peace and calm in our thoughts. I hope that the news will be good.


Comments are always read and appreciated.

(I am grateful for all awards received. However, I ask that this be an "award-free zone" and meme-free zone. Thanks for understanding!)