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I know Debra used a Mary Oliver quote in her post on Saturday, but I generally feel it’s never a bad idea to emulate Debra Rienstra, so here’s another beloved Mary Oliver poem for you.

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 part 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 poems make me want to close my laptop for a final time and go live in the woods awhile, so it feels funny to use such a poem to offer reflections on an online blog. . .but here we are.

Because it strikes me that this blog provides a space for many of us to do what this poem encourages. Day in and day out, the various writers – regular and guest – share the things they love. Stories of parents and grandchildren, of peculiar congregations and disastrous (and thus beautiful) Christmas services, of woodlands and wetlands, of teachers and plumbers, of Scripture stories and God moments.

On this blog we tell about our despair – of a world growing warmer, of countries growing more violent, of churches caught up political turmoil, of division, of injustice, of weariness.

We tell of our loves one day, and our despairs the next, and meanwhile, the world goes on. The next day there is another love to tell about. In the morning comes a new despair. In the evening a question. In the morning, a curiosity.

Writing for this blog forces me into an attentiveness. I listen for the wild geese – what are they saying today? What is happening in the world that merits our reflection? How is God using the stuff of life – the mundane and ordinary, the tragic and momentous – to tell me, to tell us, of our place in the family of things?

Hopefully this blog also serves for you (as it does for me) as its own kind of wild geese, calling our attention to those things we might otherwise neglect, expanding our horizons of thought and care to include the loves and despairs of others, even as we tell of our own.

If it does – if this blog is, in any way, an avenue by which “the world offers itself to your imagination,” would you consider financially supporting the work carried out in these online pages? With your help we can keep telling stories, keep sharing loves, keep consoling in our despair, keep learning to pay attention in a world that keeps on turning and changing and calling out to us.

Thank you.

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Laura de Jong

Laura de Jong is the Pastor of Preaching and Worship at Community Christian Reformed Church in Kitchener, Ontario


  • Gloria J McCanna says:

    You can’t go wrong with a Mary Oliver poem! Thanks for expanding my thoughts around it, and for reminding us all of the gift the Reformed Journal offers each day.

  • Love this, Laura! And agree — “Writing for this blog forces me into an attentiveness. I listen for the wild geese – what are they saying today?” Thank you.

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