Wild Geese - March 19, 2010
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.
I write this poem in its entirety because it appears all over the internet in its complete form, and also to honor this poem. It has long been my favorite poem of all time and I recite it or use it in presentations regularly. Yet, with all its familiarity to me, something new emerges this morning. All we have to do is love and out of that we know we belong. There is no one or one thing "out there" that is responsible for welcoming us into the world - it is simply our capacity to love and to see beauty. This love is beyond wrong doing and right doing, and exceeds the despair of our days. We will always have despair and rain, and there will always be a new day's sun. Looking up in the sky and hearing the cranes swirling over Gainesville, we know we are all family and that our existence is grace outside of our control, firm and unrelenting.
I believe this capacity to love is born into us. I feel it in me and have witnessed it in others.
Every year when I lived in El Paso I journey north to Bosque del Apache in New Mexico for the Festival of the Cranes. I camped for a week and on Saturday, the children and families would join me. One time we were driving around the reserve when we came upon a field of thousands of bright white snow geese. The children enjoyed seeing these. But then the geese exploded into the air and flew over us. The children became ecstatic, jumping up and down, laughing, spinning, and running towards their parents. Other children hugged their parents in solemn wonder. This natural reaction had not been cued by the adults - it was a spontaneous applause in response to the clapping and flapping of wings overhead. In the children's faces I saw our shared divinity with all living beings. All God's beings belong.
Where do you feel like you belong? Don't belong?