Why worry about the loaves and fishes? If you say the right words, the wine expands. If you say them with love and the felt ferocity of that love and the felt necessity of that love, the fish explode into many. Imagine him, speaking, and don’t worry about what is reality, or what is plain, or what is mysterious. If you were there, it was all those things. If you can imagine it, it is all those things. Eat, drink, be happy. Accept the miracle. Accept, too, each spoken word spoken with love.
After rain after many days without rain, it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees, and the dampness there, married now to gravity, falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground
where it will disappear–but not, of course, vanish except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share, and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss; a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;
and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years, will feel themselves being touched.
I know this is Mary Oliver’s most loved, widely quoted, and repeated poem, but these are words that live with me. Especially during dark days when depression or despair weigh so heavy my heart can hardly bear it. In my head, I hear her saying, “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting…” and it gives me courage to continue. To work through the painful things, to wonder at what cannot be explained, to remember that I have–as we all do– a “place in the family of things”.
by Mary Oliver
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.