Resting in Our Limits

There is a restfulness in this acceptance of our limited lives. When we move low, back toward the soil from which we can learn the lessons of our true humanity, we are able to enter a kind of peace. Humility is not about struggle or diminishment but rather is the relief that we are not God, that we are mere creatures. Berry gives voice to this truth in one of his most popular poems, “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.

Wendell Berry, in seeking and finding the “grace of the world,” is following a thread of insight running from Psalm 23 to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus calls us to live as sparrows and lilies, which is to say, to rest in the blessings of our givenness. To accept that we are creatures is to live into a kind of peace at the base of the world.

—from the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life by Ragan Sutterfield

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