There’s nothing like a fever, cough, sore throat and congestion to force a person to stop for a while. Early this month, I had just such a thing happen to me. On my way home from a meeting and I started coughing. By the next morning, it was evident that I was going to be in bed and at home for at least a few days.
It’s not a bad thing for most of us to take a little break once in a while, even if it’s something like the flu that does it for (or to) us. My brain a bit addled by the fever, I mostly stared into space or at something on the television that I didn’t remember much about as soon as it was finished. It has taken a few weeks now, for me to feel back to myself. And I’m nearly there.
Our dining table looks out over some woods and a small pond. With the trees still bare, I can watch the birds move from branch to branch, or see them set down delicately on a blackberry bramble. Sometimes ducks will float on the small pond, feeding occasionally so their tails flip upwards into the air. I like my slice of nature.
A couple of days ago, my eye was drawn to a smudge of grey-brown in a small open space. Looking carefully, I saw past the camouflage of the deer’s coloring and was able to see her clearly. She rested there, not moving for hours. Looking out later in the day, she had gotten up and was feeding on some tender shoots just emerging from the earth, and then was back to lying down in the same place, facing the same way. When I looked for her as the sun rose the next morning, the space was empty. She hasn’t returned.
It has served as a reminder to me to pause and be still, even when I’m feeling well. I reached for Wendell Berry’s wise words for fretful times:
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.
Take a moment, click here and read the full poem, or listen to the poet himself reading it. Then pause and breathe.
As the days lengthen and the seasons turn, may you find your peace in wild things near you.