My heart goes out to all of the people in Japan, to the creatures and plants, and to the earth itself. This disaster is particularly heart-breaking because on top of the earthquake and tsunami, there is now radiation leaking from the nuclear facilities. It's devastating.
On the day of the earthquake, one of my students sent me a poem called "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 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.
It's true that most wild things live in the moment, and there is great peace in that. It's also true that we are wild things -- we are part of nature. And as a natural species, we are subject to the laws of nature, to the cycle of birth and death. No matter how much we fill our lives with busyness, no matter how technologically advanced we become, we still do not have control. There is no safety; there is no security in worldly things. Our jobs, our bank accounts, our homes, buildings and monuments, our electronic gadgets, our relationships, our loved ones, and even our own bodies are all here on a temporary basis. We can lose them at any time, so if we base our sense of peace, happiness, and security on any of those things, what will happen to us when we lose them?