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 your 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.
by Mary Oliver, best-selling poet who began writing poems at age 14, first published at 28 and has won many awards for her talent.
In reading this poem to my class a number of times this week, the lines “you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves” and “the world offers itself to your imagination… over and over announcing your place in the family of things” have really landed in my heart. The questions I pose today:
Will you allow your Self to love what you love, to be who you are?
Will you recognize your place in the family of things?