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In the Grace of the World

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.”
– Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things

The iPhone is a blessing and a curse, for all that it brings. Sometimes you want to be away from the made up frenzy of short traders and politicians and debates about which quarterback is best (long since answered).  Great for a picture and for safety in a pinch, but best left stowed away the rest of the time. I used to post pictures while I was still on the summit of a mountain, for that we’re here! moment. But the act of posting takes you out of the moment, and so I leave it be until later in the day locked in as a memory of what was. #saveitforlater

Walks outside in quiet places serve the body, but mostly the mind. Free from the frenzy we create for ourselves. One notification at a time, relentlessly poking a hole in your soul. What have we done to ourselves with all of these pings and vibrations? Pavlov couldn’t have dreamed up a more diabolical experiment in self-torture.

“To go out of your mind at least once a day is tremendously important. By going out of your mind, you come to your senses.” – Alan Watts

The wind shakes the house and reminds me to bundle up. January days are short in New Hampshire, so you’ve got to get creative with your time in the grace of the world. The edges of the day work, and sometimes, dog-less as I am at the moment, late night star-gazing walks with a flashlight or headlamp to fill in the blanks and keep stray cars at bay.

I’ve learned to pause longer. To fill the void with more silence. To quiet the mind and seek out small pockets of stillness. Time flies by anyway, but it feels like yours once again. Isn’t it, in the end? Step outside. Find the stillness. It’s out there waiting for you.

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