The Presence of Still Water.

By: Jen Shoop

I am moved today by poet Wendell Berry, who — I think — was speaking directly to me this past Sunday night when I laid awake in a spiral of worry over some symptoms that had emerged in my daughter. (She is fine.) Despite having an arsenal of tools to lean on and the strangely comforting vision of a constellation of Magpie moms shouldering the same worries in their own twisted bedsheets (I know, now, I am not alone!), I tossed and turned, and strained for “the presence of still water.” I felt, too, a new sensation: irritation. I was peeved by the familiar trap of my midnight mindset. I know that things always look better in the morning, if for no reason than the turning of a blank page onto which I might throw all of my proactive energy in arranging doctor’s appointments, lining up treatments. I know that I must simply make it to daybreak. And yet, I lay there, stuck. I watched two episodes of “Selena + Chef” to divert myself and eventually tumbled into sleep. I was right, of course. First light brought relief. So, too, did the morning walk with Tilly, a moment to “come into the peace of wild things / that do not tax their lives with the forethought / of grief.” A reminder to get outside…! Mary Oliver would approve.

The poem in full below —

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 the 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.

Post Scripts.

+More on the miracle of morning.

+When are you at your most creative?

+Berry’s poem reminds me a lot (as indicated above) of Mary Oliver. I love her. (And if you’ve never read here, this is where to start.)

Shopping Break.

+The $30 cover-up we all need. Reminds me of the more expensive gauzey styles from Xirena.

+A set of four punchy velvet throw pillow covers for $32 — would be cute in a play room or reading nook for kids! Such great colors.

+These pants are the perfect shade. So cute with a white poplin top for a crisp, classic, but playful everyday look.

+Self-Portrait vibes for under $100.

+Have shared these Everlane flats a bunch already but they are truly so chic — Mansur Gavriel vibes!

+A lot of buzz around the ultra-pigmented cheek colors from Selena Gomez’s beauty line.

+Also a lot of buzz around Chloe’s woven platform sneakers. What do you think? Are you more drawn to the neutrals?

+Neutrals for the new year.

+Two cute winter boots on sale: these and these.

+Love the shape and hue of these children’s bowls.

+My current favorite gift wrap — we’ve had so many children’s parties these past few weeks and I LOVE this festive paper for littles and bigs alike. (And I always keep cute enclosure cards from Erin Wallace on hand in lieu of needing to buy a Hallmark card for every birthday!)

+Go-to gifts for littles.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

6 thoughts on “The Presence of Still Water.

  1. Thank you so much for sharing — I have never read/heard this poem before and it is exactly as Hayley described it below: soothing as if someone is gently rubbing my back!

  2. Reading this poem felt like somebody gently rubbing my back. So soothing. Thank you for sharing and I’m glad your daughter is fine.

    1. What a perfect way to phrase it. It is a gentle rub on the back. Everything will be OK 🙂

      Thank you! Mini is fine! Worry for naught!


  3. Still Water—The first thing that came to mind was Psalm 23. He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul. Same sentiment as Berry, I think. Beautiful.

Previous Article

Next Article