Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets. I find her poems call me to spend time, reflect quietly, and read them anew many times. I think what I consistently get out of her poetry is that we are not alone in the world.
We live together, but it is not just a human world. It is a world full of other beings, objects, and roles that shape our lives and we, in turn, shape the world. Most of the time, our relationships with the world, others, and things is unconscious. The world exists out there somewhere in taken-for-granted ways.
When we are mindfull and present, we notice the world. Mary Oliver uses the words harsh and exciting, but we are not accustomed to the novelty that continuously emerges and, when it calls, it seems harsh. As we live more fully, the world calls to us and we hear it. The harsh sounds help us remain attuned to the world.
The world excites us with its refreshing newness. We discover the extraordinary in the ordinary; what we have taken-for-granted.
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.