Mary Oliver: Wild Geese


Wild Geese

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

Does the Mad Pace Get To You as Well?

Have you ever had one of those conversations with yourself that go like this:?

Centered Self: “You’ve never been one that gains energy from multitasking. Be gentle.”

Berater Self: “I am a Lazy. Butt. Just saw SusieQ. I know for a fact she already worked forty hours this week. She handled the Veteran’s day popcorn distribution for the whole school on her day off. She looked like a million bucks, and the more I get to know her, it’s true. She is sincerely nice. Not lazy.”

Gentle Self: “People really enjoy your smile because it comes out of your eyes more than your crooked tooth smile. Not every face can pull that off.”

Angry Self: “I hate traffic. I hate vegetables. I hate luke warm coffee. I hate dirty dishes. I hate kitchen sink scum. I hate mohawks. I hate mullets. I hate Talbots. I hate Dillard’s. I hate malls. I hate shopping. I hate shoppers. I hate people who smile. I hate people who smile while they shop. I hate mall shoppers who smile on the way into Talbots. I hate Talbot loving mall shoppers who smile because they think their sink scum is better than mine.

Wait…think their scum is less than mine is the correct syntax perhaps. I don’t care. I hate them!” 

Prayerful self: “Stop it! Listen!

hear that?

It was your muscle popping loose. Nope. Sit still a little longer. Rewind the song. Nope. Reheat the coffee in a bit.


Rewind the song (Alexi Murdoch, “Song For You”).

You’re so tired, you don’t sleep at night
As your heart is trying to mend
You keep it quiet but you think you might
disappear before the end

And its strange that you cannot find
Any strength to even try
To find a voice to speak your mind…

Feeling Better Self: “Oh the strings in that song. So beautiful. I’m not so alone after all. 

Earth Wind and Fire Throw Back!

I Forgot that I jacked up my playlist. Nice!”

Trevor Hudson on Compassion Fatigue

I found this great article on a great website named Alive Now. They used it as part of a reflection page. I also wrote a post (click here if you want to see it) on how this short essay was a timely read for my week.

Becoming a Compassionate Neighbor to Myself

by Trevor Hudson
from A Mile in My Shoes

Christ-followers who take seriously the gospel’s challenge to compassion often neglect to care for themselves. Whatever the reasons for this neglect (ranging from fear of doing anything that looks selfish, always wanting to please others, and needing to be needed to a sincere desire to put others first) inadequately caring for ourselves sets us up as prime candidates for compassion fatigue. We can care overmuch. Accepting the fact that we can care for others only when we care for ourselves guards us against the dangers of overcaring. . . .

When we do not show compassion toward ourselves, our compassion for others becomes poisoned with harmful toxins. However, once we learn to love ourselves as God does, we become freer to pour out our lives in sacrificial self-giving and to do so without resentment and heaviness of spirit. Having a proper love for ourselves, we can then forget ourselves, reach out to others, and respond to their needs. Self-love and other-love are bound together. Perhaps for this reason Jesus reaffirmed the centuries-old levitical command given to the Hebrew people as binding upon his followers: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). How do we become compassionate neighbors to ourselves? Here is a menu of possibilities worth exploring:

Take care of your body.

In caring for others we use up a great deal of physical and mental energy. If we do not replenish these limited resources, we run the risk of compassion fatigue. We cannot fulfill our God-given callings to be compassionate human beings in bodies that are constantly neglected and overextended. How we feed, exercise, relax, listen to, and nourish our bodies are matters relevant to faithful discipleship. As Francis of Assisi lay dying, someone asked if he would have changed anything in his ministry. Significantly he responded, “I would have been more kind to my body.” . . .

Do what you enjoy.

Most people have a favorite spare-time activity. Whether it be working in the garden, walking in the countryside, playing sport, listening to music, reading for fun, developing a personal hobby, going to the movies, or simply enjoying a leisurely bath, these activities possess wonderful resourcing potential. When we omit activities like these from our lives—as those who care are prone to do—we end up living resentful, joyless, and frazzled lives.

On the other hand, taking time to enjoy them renews energy levels, recharges inner batteries, and fills our empty tanks. If we want to give ourselves in compassionate caring, few aspects are more important than finding out what we enjoy doing—and doing it. . . .

Process your own pain.

Each of us sits next to a pool of tears. [It was in a conversation with Gordon Cosby that I first heard the phrase “pool of tears.”] Some pools are deeper than others, but each of us has a pool of his or her own. These pools represent our grief about the experiences that have crushed our spirits, scarred our souls, and crippled our relationships. Trying to bring consolation and comfort to others in their pain without giving attention to these painful memories renders us vulnerable to compassion fatigue. However, finding a human wailing wall where we turn our pain into speech renews our capacities to live and love more deeply. Besides experiencing the loving presence of God in the care and counsel of those who listen to us, we also find out that processing our own pain helps us reach into the hearts of others who are in pain.

Permit me a brief word of testimony in this regard. Over the years numerous people have affirmed in my life the gift of listening. I spend large chunks of my daily time offering a listening presence to people in pain. The flipside of this listening gift was, however, that I seldom spoke about my own pain. Bottled-up feelings and emotions raged in my heart, longing for release. Some years ago I decided to find a safe place where I could share my heart. In the presence of a patient and skilled listener I found the courage to express my inner anguish—a liberating, healing, and humbling experience. This journey toward my own healing has not ended, but I know that without it I would be in no position to care for others.