The weather is changing this week, the cold air is on its way, we are taking out our heavier coats and putting on more layers. The squirrels are hiding their nuts, the birds and the geese are getting ready to fly south. Every time I see geese flying overhead, I am reminded of Mary Oliver’s famous poem Wild Geese:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
I think poetry speaks to us so well, because sometimes we lack the everyday language to describe what we are thinking and feeling. To me, this poem is a great reminder that no matter what may be happening in my own life, nature is constantly flowing around me, from day to day, season to season. All I have to do is pause and notice its invitation to imagine my place in the family of things. What that place looks like will be different in each season of life too.
Life around us, whether it is our children, animals, or nature in our back yard has a way of bringing us back to ourselves, which is where we are at home anyway. They remind us of what we are not paying attention to, what we are missing. They show us how to be present to ourselves. What invitation for your life do you hear in Mary’s poem?