A Place in the Family of Things

At the moment, I’m thinking about how I fit, and really how all humans fit into the Family of Things. This past weekend, I taught a Hands-on Assisting course in Branford, CT at Ravens Wing Yoga, and my message for the weekend included how do we help each by meeting them exactly where they are, that we don’t fix or correct each other, but instead we help each other to find their own way.  

As I was walking across the parking light on the second night of this three day program, I saw a couple flocks of Canadian geese flying south, honking and announcing their way across the darkening sky. Mary Olliver‘s poem “Wild Geese” immediately came to mind (I included the text at the end of this post). And in that moment, I found myself feeling happiness.

How could I be happy? Two things weighed heavy on my heart and mind. First, this was the first time I had ever taught this program, and no matter how long we have been doing something, we still get the jitters and self-doubt from teaching something the first (and hundredth) time! Because we started the opening Friday night session without electricity, in a mostly dark room with a few candles and camping lights attempting to illuminate our faces, I was not where I wanted to be in my plan, and I couldn’t seem to catch-up.

Plus on a much bigger scale, that week, I was without hope regarding the future of our country, and really all the people of the world. America had just elected a man who represented everything that I find to be morally bankrupt about human beings. Genuine tears had flowed down my face many times in the days after the election results announced that he won, that she hadn’t won.  I felt the souls and lives of every human being, animal and plant would be in relationship to this new president’s decisions. For the people in my country, the future of our healthcare, our poor, our addicts, our immigrants (legal and otherwise), and our collective potential for hope and “NAMASTE” as a fundamental way we humans can interact with each other.

The election and my responses of grief, shock, and a bit of resolve are all still very active in my mind.  Yet, today, again, in my memories, I hear those geese honking across the New England sky, and I remember Mary’s sage voice, “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” And on that Saturday night, the air seemed filled with possibility and hope because the geese were still doing what they do. That hope and certainty crept into my heart.  I felt confident that I was going to be ok and that all humans would be ok, in the over-all scheme of things.

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.

Each of us is part of this family of things, I realized that night that we must include both ourselves and our adversaries in this family.  We need to hold space the people that challenge us, even when they do not hold space for us. Someone has to keep the flame of hope alive.

Today, I am once again empowered to tend to the embers of my hope.  And I trust the next time I lose my ember of hope again, the angels called people and wild geese will come along to help rekindle my hope so I can carry it again.

Wild Geese by Mary Olliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles though the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
     love what it loves.
Tell 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.

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