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Walking in Newness
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February 4, 2014

By Virginia Hearn, New College Berkeley Professor of Communication


The nearby gym my husband and I go to with some regularity has come up with
an interesting idea. Someone on the staff of the gym has now placed a box
near the drinking fountain in back inviting anyone to pick up a poem contributed
by someone else and then add a poem, either original or by another poet,
to "inspire" the next poetically inclined person who also happens to be working
out right in the gym.

A few days ago I walked by the poetry box, and taking the top entry, I read "Life
is a joke, but there's no punch line." A poem? Evidently someone was feeling that

A day later, again picking up the latest entry, I read one of my favorite poems,
this one by Wendell Berry, neatly typed out by an unknown gymnast who liked
the idea and had added one to the collection of poems in the box. It's not a
sonnet, because it has only 11 lines, but it reads like one.

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.

Right then I was worrying about a personal health problem--taxing my life with
forethought of grief--and I was helped by that reminder here in the anonymity of
Berkeley. No great heron or wood drake was there in that room but I could see
them both and was comforted. What an opportunity for Christian poets to speak
words of encouragement to only-God-knows-who. 

Virginia Hearn, (B.A.) is an editor and writer, whose books include: Just As I Am: Journal-Keeping for Spiritual Growth; Our Struggle to Serve: The Stories of 15 Evangelical Women ; and What They Did Right: Reflections on Parents by Their Children. (February 2014)

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 10:38 PM

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