On the Way Home

January 28th, 2007

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.

Mary Oliver

This is perhaps my most favorite poem of all time, and how fortunate that as I searched for my son’s art journal, I fell upon it again. I have been lost lately. Lost to the joy of creating family, lost to the grace of letting go, lost to the heartiness of effort and the release of relaxation. Mostly I have been lost to the voice inside of me that helps me see the forest for the trees, the beauty of a sunset, the innocence of my children’s laughter. Buried under the trying and failing, the stupid, endless problem-solving activities that can seem like everything, but in the end is just nothing more than how we see the world.

So I heard the geese calling my name this weekend in an enforced retreat, wherein my body demanded again for me to lie still. Demanded again to go in and feel and release all that has needed a voice. I listened to my breath again, watched the cat still and purring at the end of the bed, read some good books about the present moment, felt the pain in my back without medication and wondered why I am so compelled to fill my every moment.

The truth to life is in living it, moment by moment and the true and honest effort to love what your body loves. To not let the despair and struggle tell the story of our lives, but rather give up the story line entirely and feel grateful for all that the world offers to our imagination. I am coming home to a sustainable life again.

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