Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Rest in the Grace of the World...

I found myself with 45 minutes of free time before I needed to leave to teach class yesterday. So I practiced what I've been preaching and took a "mini-sabbath." When you don't have time for a full-day sabbath, a mini-sabbath can suffice as a time of renewal and refreshment. The photo above is from

My mini-sabbath was a hike in Westmoreland Sanctuary in Bedford Corners, NY. This 630 acre nature preserve contains tall forests, green meadows, rock ridges, lakes and streams. At the beginning of the trail was this poem on a plank nailed to a tree,

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth
One is nearer God's heart in a forest,
Than anywhere else on earth.

Although the verses above substitute "forest" for "garden" in the original poem by Dorothy Francis Gurney, I believe her intent is preserved because a forest is a type of garden.

I reflected on this poem as I hiked and experienced its truth. Walking through a forest of white pines, oaks, firs and tulip trees I felt close to its Creator. Even though I only had 40 minutes to hike, I left with renewed energy and a sense of peace. As Wendell Berry writes in his poem, "The Peace of Wild Things": "For a time, I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

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