Thanksgiving greetings and wishes to teachers of writing everywhere. I am certainly counting my blessings today, as I expect you are. I’m grateful that I’m still here on the planet and that I have sisters, nephews, nieces, and grandnieces to hold close and cherish. And I’m forever grateful to students I have known over some fifty-plus years now, who have taught me so much and shared so much of their lives with me. Just this week I had a chance to visit with a former student, from China, who is now working on a PhD in neuroscience, to break bread with her and to hear about her accomplishments and setbacks, her worries and also her dreams. I hope I remembered to thank her. So here’s to those who teach and to those who learn. And here’s a gift that I come back to regularly when I am giving thanks: Wendell Berry’s haunting, and comforting, “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.
--Openings: Poems, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1968