On Beauty & Despair

Day after day, week after week, my mind is bombarded with moral outrage and creeping despair. My brow furrows and my pulse quickens as the headlines generously dole out daily proof of humanity’s inhumanity. I wince at the thought of the world my son will inherit.

All the while, the world right in front of my eyes is packed with brim-breaching beauty. Like the pristine sky-blue robin’s egg I found in the grass. And the blazing sunset-orange flowers that recently bloomed in our yard. And the sound of Greyson’s helium-infused laugh. And the feel of Danielle’s granite-sturdy love.


Depending on the angle at which I view the world, it reveals itself to be either heart-breakingly ugly or heart-burstingly beautiful.

Both observations are valid. Acknowledging either one while pretending the other doesn’t exist is incomplete. This is life’s universal, unresolvable contradiction.

So how do I keep my head right? How do I keep my heart from breaking? I defer to the ever-wise, ever-wonder-filled Wendell Berry for a head-steadying, heart-fortifying answer to that quandary.

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.

 “The Peace of Wild Things”


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