Today I got to spend some time with one of my very best friends walking around Walden Pond in Massachusettts. I haven’t ever read through Walden by Henry David Thoreau in it’s entirety, though perhaps now I might. It was a beautiful fall day outside of Boston and I could immediately tell why Thoreau found it to be a place of peace, a retreat from the daily chaos. Some would call him a Transcendentalist, others a naturalist, and some would say a Christian Anarchist. I guess I can’t be sure, but regardless of his category I would agree with him that it was a pretty pond. It made me want to find myself a pond. Thoreau had Walden, but there are plenty of other ponds out there to go around. My time there reminded me of a favorite poem:
THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS
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.
— Wendell Berry
As Christians the peace of Christ can dwell within us despite location. Sure we can (and should) find our ponds, our places of respite. We know however that the surest retreat is found in the deep deep love of Christ, a place where we are known. The psalmist says “O God you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar.” You discern my going out and my lying down, you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:1-6).
There is comfort in the fact that amidst uncertainties, whether big or small, that God is not uncertain about us. He is pretty certain in fact. You don’t need to find a pond to find peace.
Emily Hunt is one of the leaders at Simple Free and has lived in Omaha for more than two years, working with students at Creighton University as a residence director. She graduated from Taylor University, and has worked in Nepal with Tiny Hands International.