One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver…

Recently while re reading Wild Geese, one of her poems, I was again struck by the first few lines.

‘You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves’.

I got to thinking….

As children, we were often told to be ‘good’. There was also an unnamed or unconscious threat that if we were not good, something bad would happen to us. Maybe a bogey man would take us, we would get a black mark in a book somewhere, or worse of all, we wouldn’t be loved anymore.

As Religious, we were to strive to be ‘perfect’, (an impossible task)! Nowadays, I believe we are more aware of our frailty as humans and even if we have long stopped trying to be ‘perfect’, maybe a residue still exists in our psyche.

Do we still beat ourselves up when we make mistakes?

Are we highly critical and intolerant of others when they don’t seem to live up to our idea of what they should be or do?

Further on in the poem she says ‘Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you about mine’.

This, to my mind, implies compassionate listening to ourselves and the other.

Am I compassionate towards myself?

Can I forgive myself, or others, for offenses and hurts, real or imagined?

We are good enough. We were created good.

We were loved into being and we are lovable.

I believe it is in owning this fact and accepting it as true, that we can be free of self absorption and be available to the world.

Just saying……

Elizabeth OSU

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.