Sunday, 26 August 2012

Wendell Berry's 'The Peace of Wild Things': Leave Your Anxieties and Have a Cup of Tea With the Wolf in the Field of Flowers

Wolf photo by Fremlin. Used under Creative Commons license

Everyone seems to be very stressed out for one reason or another, which I in turn find stressful. Hermitry beckons, or else 'The Peace of Wild Things'. Wolves are one of my favourite wild creatures, if not my favourite, and this fellow looks rather peaceful in a field of flowers.


The Emergency Poet prescribed this poem to me at Poetry Parnassus, and I was already familiar with it, but I loved it as a choice. I think I had talked about anxiety a fair bit in those few minutes. (I also started thinking about tea therapy tonight; I think we need to get some kind of poetry/tea therapy going.) The wild animals in this poem have the advantage that they "do not tax their lives with forethought/of grief"; a pretty good description of anxiety, I'd say.

The Sermon on the Mount has some of the most practical and comforting words about anxiety ever spoken or written. It comes in different guises, of course, but the illustration of "the lilies of the field" (Matthew 6:25-32) who remain loved and cared for although "they do not toil, nor do they spin" is worth calling to mind in so many situations (particularly as it's possible to feel anxiety and a lack of security both practically and emotionally.) Finally, Jesus said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his [God's] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own badness." (Matthew 6:33, 34, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures).

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