Belonging to the Family 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.*

We want the family of human community to claim us.  Most of us have our stories, one way or another, of how that hope has been disappointed by some of the members of that very same family of human community.  We were not accepted.  We did not fit in.  We do not look right.  We did not have enough.  They were cruel.  We were never enough.  They were struggling and didn’t have the time.

We have these experiences where the human community fails us, and then we seal off some part of ourselves like blood clotting to seal a wound.  In some of us that sealed wound looks like the ever straight face.  In others, anger.  Sometimes we become the constant joker while others become the cynic.  These ways we develop as reactions to the failure of hope then become, unwittingly, the ways that we as members of the human community fail others.  We, the wounded, in turn wound.

Where is the healing for broken hope?  Just as the wounds came in many ways, many forms, so may hope, but Mary Oliver through her incredible gift shows us one powerful way.geese

Opening our eyes to the family of nature.  When we open our eyes to anything–really open–as the old saying goes, we also open our souls–those deepest parts of ourselves where hope originates, that depth to which the wound of rejection has sunk.  When we open our eyes and soul to the family of nature it can do this work of expansion that almost always surprises us.  It draws us in and causes us to wonder, to soften, to reach out and realize in the process that something, Nature herself, is reaching out to embrace us.  She calls our names and remind us . . . of our place in the family of things.

Human beings who have heard the world of Nature calling to them like that heal.  They know how to extend the invitation and the call into the family of human community, into the family of nature, into the family of things.

Nursing a wound?  Recently realized that maybe you were the one who did the wounding? Go find a spot to watch the sky, listen to the wind, let a tree speak to you.  Begin to heal.

Bob Patrick

*exerpted from The Wild Geese in Dream Work by Mary Oliver
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