Receptivity and Soul


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.

I rest in the grace of the world. 

–Wendel Berry


Self calls us to take charge, to take action.

Soul calls us to relinquish the stance of self. It calls us to open to beauty, to kindness, or pain.

We are tempted to think that it’s always good to take charge of our lives, to accomplish, or master – to be triumphant. Yet it’s often good to set mastery aside — to yield, to let go.

It’s often good to give in to the beauty or majesty or pain of the moment.

We needn’t always be in charge, always fight back tears of joy or sorrow.

If we yield in anticipation of the opening chords of a symphony, that yielding is not a sign of defeat. It’s a sign of a readiness to be transformed, a readiness to let music fill us with unexpected wonder or joy or sorrow.

For the moment, we can let go of a will to mastery or a desire to accomplish.

We can come into the presence of still water or the lilt of birdsong.

Then freedom is no longer a choice or accomplishment.

“For a time I rest in the grace of the world and am free.”

Receptive freedom is letting the grace of the world set the acquisitive self aside.


It is letting go — letting the soul flourish.

4 comments on “Receptivity and Soul

  1. dmf says:

    is this really something one can choose to do as an act of will?

  2. Ed Mooney says:

    Nice way to put it !

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