Recent poetry workshop

Chaplain James Hatter

Recently we had a poetry workshop for our residents here at East Louisville.  A local English professor came to read poetry and to help our residents craft their own poems.  One of the poems we discussed was The Peace of Wild Things, by local poet 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 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.

From the book “The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry”


After reading the poem, the instructor asked the residents to share their thoughts.  It reminded some of Jesus’ words that God cares for the sparrows, so just imagine how much more he will care for us.  Others were reminded of shade trees, streams, or other places they went in times of trouble to find peace.  One resident, who has great difficulty with her memory, quoted Psalm 23 upon hearing this poem.


We may all have different ways of interpreting poems such as these, but a common theme with people of faith is the strong connection of our longing for peace and God’s faithfulness in providing a means for experiencing His peace.  Whether it be through poetry, nature, scripture, the Holy Spirit or all of the above, our God is creative and will make His peace and truth known to those who open their eyes and ears.