Into the Presence of Still Water

Two months before I moved to Austin, I stopped through the city on my way back to Massachusetts from California. I took a small room at the Hotel San Jose on South Congress, where I drank cold beer on the patio, stuck daisies in my hair and listened to Toni Price sing her heart out at the Continental from my private balcony across the street.

Pasted to the wall of the bathroom were the words of Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things. They were serendipitous at the time, given the truckload of decisions swirling through my head. I scribbled them down and tucked them in my book. When I returned to Texas two months later, that piece of paper was the first thing to go on my wall. It followed me to three Austin homes, back to Massachusetts for one last quick dance, and all the way to Korea.

My head is not swirling with decisions, but it is full. Life is full. It is wonderfully full with sangria on porches, grilling on patios, guitars, ice cream, summer salads, fresh flowers, and friends within walking distance. It is also full with deadlines and Oh, Korea, you devil you and Oh, Korea, Rrrrrrr and Ok, no really you can’t say “Love in Family Days.” No really.

So this weekend I took Wendell Berry’s advice and got on a bus and took it to the ocean, to rice paddies and mountains and expansive farms and still water.

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 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.

14 Responses to “Into the Presence of Still Water”

  1. hannah says:

    this makes me yearn.

  2. I like “day-blind stars” almost as much as “love in family days”

  3. oooo poppy fields!! oooo sense of home! love ’em!

  4. BF says:


    thanks for this.

    (also “love in family days” cracks me up, big time)

  5. jodi says:

    so beautiful. all of it.

  6. rachellake says:

    I love this poem. I too have it pasted to my wall – I don’t even remember where I first discovered it.
    That line about “despair for the world” hits me so hard every time.
    Beautiful post.

  7. Marie says:

    Your blog is so inspiring. I wish I could meet you one day!

  8. anna says:

    just curious – where did you find still water in austin? because that need has building up a while for me here.

  9. Rach says:

    that “still water” shot – the last one – just wonderful =) The whole role is great but that last one ….

  10. Leah says:

    Yes. A thousand times. Yes.

  11. Steve says:

    i love the San Jose.

  12. Anna says:

    wow, i’ve never read that poem. it is just what i needed. thank you.

  13. ash says:

    i wish I could explain how perfect reading this right now was for me. I once copied that poem into a journal, yet it had slipped my mind for so long.

    thank you for sharing and reminding me :)

  14. Anna says:

    it’s a comment from me, again. i posted that poem on my blog and linked to you. i just couldn’t help but pass it along. thanks again.


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