The walk home along the canal brought someone I haven’t seen for year or more, the seal. I rummaged around in my bag for the camera as I had to capture him (why exactly did I have to capture him on camera?) and by the time I had it switched on I had lost him, just a few grainy out of focus shots and a video of the waves.
Walking home I was reminded of a Wendell Berry poem I’d read last night.
It has been a tough week with things that have kept me a awake at night. News of family friend in hospital far from home and family, fear and panic, far from peace.
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.
Well I was going to have a rant about football and the environment, women bishops, church, you name it it might have been in this particular blog tonight. But instead I reached for a book of poetry by Wendell Berry and saw this poem, which calmed me down a bit and made me think about dreams and contentment. I’d much rather be musing on garden rows than musing on football rows.The poem also reminds me a bit of Psalm 131.
The Want of Peace
All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,
but the contentments made
by men who have had little:
the fisherman’s silence
receiving the river’s grace,
the gardener’s musing on rows.
I lack the peace of simple things.
I am never wholly in place.
I find no peace or grace.
We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness
and wish for the dumb life of roots.
The continuing weekend of small time misery continues,
still in the midst of it all a moment of grace supplied by the birds,
a swirling flock of house martins flying behind the house,
darting and arrowing over the Lagan and trees.
Most days I mightn’t even notice,
maybe nobody else noticed or even cared as it’s not a big deal
but it was there out the window.
It reminded me of one of my favourite Seamus Heaney poems, St Francis and the Birds…
St Francis and The Birds
When Francis preached love to the birds
They listened, fluttered, throttled up
Into the blue like a flock of words
Released for fun from his holy lips.
Then wheeled back, whirred about his head,
Pirouetted on brothers’ capes.
Danced on the wing, for sheer joy played
And sang, like images took flight.
Which was the best poem Francis made,
His argument true, his tone light.