“The Family of Things”

WILD GEESE 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.

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Spaciousness

Zen priest angel Kyodo williams explores her idea of “spaciousness” as follows:

“It is developing our own capacity for spaciousness within ourselves to allow others to be as they are — that is love. And that doesn’t mean that we don’t have hopes or wishes that things are changed or shifted, but that to come from a place of love is to be in acceptance of what is, even in the face of moving it towards something that is more whole, more just, more spacious for all of us.”

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“Where does it hurt?”

“But a defining moment for me happened when I was getting my locks washed, and my locker’s daughter came in one morning, and she had been hustling all night. And she had sores on her body, and she was just in a state, drugs. So something said to me, “Ask her, ‘Where does it hurt?’” And I said, “Shelly, where does it hurt?” And just that simple question unleashed territory in her that she had never shared with her mother…And she talked about having been incested. She talked about all of the things that had happened to her as a child, and she literally shared the source of her pain. And I realized, in that moment, listening to her and talking with her, that I needed a larger way to do this work, rather than a Marxist, materialist analysis of the human condition…And those moments made me really begin to seek, to go back to really think deeply about black folk religion and to really want to develop, in a very intentional way, an inner life that had to do with how I lived in the world.” – Ruby Sales

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This is water

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.” – David Foster Wallace

David Wallace’s “This is Water” commencement speech (given at Kenyon College in 2005) is considered one of the best ever given by many.

Here’s the text version.

Learn more about Wallace here.

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