Now a red, sleepy sun above the rim
Of twilight stares along the quiet weald,
And the kind, simple country shines revealed
In solitudes of peace, no longer dim.
The old horse lifts his face and thanks the light,
Then stretches down his head to crop the green.
All things that he has loved are in his sight;
The places where his happiness has been
Are in his eyes, his heart, and they are good.
~Siegfried Sassoon from “Break of Day”
I am growing older along with my horses. I think of them out to pasture throughout my workday as I continue to climb in the harness to pull the load as fast and hard as I can muster, returning home in the evening sore and weary.
I think of them with the morning sun on their withers, the green blades under their feet, as they search for the sweetest tender patch to munch.
They remind me to bring the calm of the pasture inside to balance the noise and bustle and troubles found in the clinic. There still is peace and light to be found; I have only to look for it.
“To practice medicine with good spirit does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to bring your calm and loving heart right into the midst of it.” from www.theheartofmedicine.org
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At times these days I think of the way the sun would set on the farmland around our small house in the autumn. A view of the horizon, the entire circle of it, if you turned, the sun setting behind you, the sky in front becoming pink and soft, then slightly blue again, as though it could not stop going on in its beauty, then the land closest to the setting sun would get dark, almost black against the orange line of the horizon, but if you turn around, the land is still available to the eye with such softness, the few trees, the quiet fields of cover crops already turned, and the sky lingering, lingering, then finally dark. As though the soul can be quiet for those moments.
All life amazes me.
– Elizabeth Strout, from My Name is Lucy Barton
I have learned, from those much wiser than I, to recognize moments meant for quieting. The news of the world constantly rushes past; there is suffering beyond imagining in the lives of a few I know and millions I don’t know. There is much I can do to make a difference but so much more beyond my feeble reach.
Instead of feeling abandoned on the shores of overwhelm, I seek out the familiar, the routine, and the ordinary, immersed in the recurring patterns of the day and night as the world turns on its axis. I turn myself around to witness what surrounds me.
And so I am quieted. And so I am amazed.
Long yellow rushes bending
above the white snow patches;
purple and gold ribbon
of the distant wood:
what an angle
you make with each other as
you lie there in contemplation.
– William Carlos Williams, January Morning – XII
For the past eleven days, millions of us wake reluctant to contemplate the headlines:
At what cross purposes are we now?
What right and left angles have been sharpened in the night?
What blowing snow covers a multitude of sins, hiding what we know lies beneath?
And when, O God, will a naked and merciless January yield to the more welcoming light of Your spring?
It is a blustery and soaking start to the University’s academic year: we enter autumn with no little trepidation…
Enter autumn as you would
a closing door. Quickly,
cautiously. Look for something inside
that promises color, but be wary
of its cast–a desolate reflection,
an indelible tint.
~Pamela Steed Hill from “September Pitch”