How’s that for the first line of a poem? Probably not a line you would like to share, out of context, with your children or teenagers. But it’s a radical statement. Mary Oliver, the poet, isn’t exhorting us to be bad. She’s encouraging us to be authentic; to be self-accepting and forgiving; to believe that we all have our place in the world, no matter how we feel about ourselves at any given time. We belong. Our lives matter.
I think that you will like Mary Oliver’s poem, Wild Geese. I hope that it speaks to you, as it did to me. As it still does every time I read it.
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.
Posted by Juliette Gyure, life and leadership coach