“…your place in the family of things.”

It had not been my intention to pick up a theme on this blog as I move toward the end of 2011, but it appears that the breezes of fall have drawn me to a place called “belonging”. The week has been complicated with politics and passion. There is a surge in this country–a surge of energy calling for action from a new type of community. The question is once again being asked, “who is my neighbor? and what I give up in order to make life better for someone else?”

It’s been a long time since such a large group of people discussed the concerns of the greater good. Our society has forged itself into the 21st century with one banner– “It’s all about ME.” People have stood defiantly alone with their “rights” – the ‘right’ to make profit, the right to claim privilege, the right to leave families unsupported as homes are repossessed and jobs drastically cut. This focus on self has thrown us dangerously off-balance. The OCCUPY Movement has highlighted the selfish stance which has so deeply affected this country – the whole world. The people gathering all over the country are meeting one another, again, for the first time. Stories are being shared and heard. Community has been created in this forum, a community energized to reclaim balance and move forward with a renewed sense of truth.

There is no one-way. Finding balance will not be neat and clean. At the core, this is about ‘being known’ – belonging to something larger than self. This is a time for people to find their place in the greater family and, with all sincere imperfection, contribute to the balance we so passionately seek.

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 clear 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

4 thoughts on ““…your place in the family of things.”

  1. This is one of my favorite poems. I absolutely agree that there is a stirring of dissatisfaction and perhaps even rejection of the something-no-larger-than- the-self-driven life. And yet narcissism is epidemic. Engagement over and over in new practices until they re-shape us seems to be part of the path to the possibility of a new and different way. That’s where I am putting my energy these days.

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    • Thank you for this reflection, Courtney. Yes, I believe we have a long and challenging journey ahead. “New practices” are exactly what need to be offered – over and over (as you say), until they become a natural way of living, again. The call is getting clearer – “All hands on deck!”

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  2. Carrie,
    I enjoyed your essay, and I’m a long-time fan of Mary Oliver. You may be interested in the latest edition of “On Being” on the web. She talks about a similar resurgence of interest in the common good that occurred at the beginning of the 20th Century.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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