Finding Your Place in the Family of Things

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The other day, it surprised me to hear the sound of geese in the distance. I thought most had left Minnesota, but this flock was just starting their journey South. Their flight reminded me of my life path recently–a little surprising and just starting.

Their journey also made me think about Mary Oliver’s poem, “Wild Geese,” which still inspires healing and reflection for me during the Winter season when I read it. I hope you, too, find it worthwhile.

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 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.

– MARY OLIVER, “Wild Geese”

Reflection: Each season of life presents new challenges and offers more opportunities to develop wisdom about ourselves and the world around us. Like the wild geese mentioned in the poem, as a new season approaches where do you place yourself “in the family of things”? Are you satisfied with your place? If not, what resistance do you have to your place? Are you lonely? If yes, what is your current relationship to nature, people and the world around you? Where do you feel connected and where do you feel disconnected? Do you love what you love in life and really mean it?

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