'What I do is me: for that I came.' G M Hopkins

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Peace of Wild Things

On Sunday past, we gathered in a house of worship with friends and family to celebrate the gift of our grandson, and along with his parents and the other grandparents we dedicated him to God.  We stood together, all gazing at this wonderful little boy, now aged 11 months, who has brought us such delight.

Finlay George

And there’s that pain again - the bitter-sweet mixture of joy and terror when we take on the responsibility of caring for a tiny tot who has absolutely no sense that the world is not always kind.  He smiles his way into each day with an expectation that he will be protected and loved and cherished and safe.  And we pledge to pray for him and always believe the best for him.
Except that we cannot guarantee a single thing.  Our hold on life is as fragile as his and as we get older we realise that faith is no protection against illness and heartache and death.  Good friends have recently lost a sister and her husband in a road accident in Kenya.  They were on a mission trip from New Zealand, where they lived.  They leave behind 10 adult and teenage children, all of whom took part in their parents’ funeral – lovely young lives blighted by tragedy and yet still speaking faith.  Amazing grace!
So where to go with the fear that threatens to steal all our todays?
On Sunday everyone came back here for eats and laughter and presents.  The house was filled with babies and energy and life.  We talked about the future and all the tomorrows that we plan to live together as families.  A happy day!
As dusk fell and the last car left, I drew back the curtains at the rear of the house and saw sudden movement in the garden.  It was an animal – too big for a dog or a fox.  We switched off the lights and watched in total wonder as an adult wild stag, antlers aloft, sauntered across the grass.  Soon it was followed by another, and another until five stags began to gambol and chase up and down the bank, round the greenhouse and through the trees.  They stayed for ages and in spite of the fact that they were doing damage, we left them to their party.  They were still there in the morning and posed for a photo shoot before jumping the fence into the field behind.
And what has that to do with fear?  Everything.  It’s only in the place of wonder that fear melts into faith and we are reminded that all our loves are eternal in the worship of our Creator God.  I am comforted in my fear that He knows and I can find peace.

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)