Sometimes one facet of life – personal, familial, professional, spiritual, political, etc. – feels out of control. When this happens, the world can feel pretty overwhelming. However, when every facet of life is in sync by being out of sync, the world can become nothing less than grim.
That’s a word that describes how many people are feeling these days about life in the world. You name it, misogyny, racism, sexual harassment, shootings, drought, wars, and drugs. The news is bad.
In Portland, this news about the world became so comprehensibly glum that ash fell from the sky and pasted the world grey. Seriously.
In times like this I’ve found poetry to be a salve. It's able to both name the grim and situate me within a reimagined context. A couple weeks ago a friend of mine mentioned a poem by Berry, that I had long forgotten. It soothed my soul:
The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry
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.
“The day-blind stars waiting with their light.” I just love that line. It imagines light waiting.
Not for day to come, but for night to reach its darkest hour. For it’s in the darkest darkness that the most radiant light is made possible. And herein lies the longing of Advent:
In the grimmest grim,
For these day-blind stars
can no longer wait
to light up the sky.