Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver
"Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine..."
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 your 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.
Once more Atonement Day has come.
All pretense gone,
naked heart revealed to the hiding self,
we stand on holy ground,
between the day that was
and the one that must be.
At what did we aim?
How did we stumble?
What did we take? What did we give?
To what were we blind?
Last year's confession came easily to my lips.
Will this year's come from deeper than the skin?
Why are our paths strewn with promises
like fallen leaves?
When shall our lust be for wisdom?
Love and truth shall meet; justice and peace
Let us nurture our impulse for good
So we know the joy of wisdom, justice and mercy.
(Source: The Yom Kippur/Kol Nidre service
of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism of Fairfield County, CT)
Now is the time for turning.
The leaves are beginning to turn from green to red and orange.
The birds are beginning to turn and are heading once more toward the South.
The animals are beginning to turn to storing their food for the winter.
For leaves, birds, and animals turning comes instinctively.
But for us turning does not come so easily.
It takes an act of will for us to make a turn. It means breaking with old habits.
It means admitting that we have been wrong; and this is never easy.
It means losing face; it means starting all over again; and this is always painful.
It means saying: I am sorry.
It means recognizing that we have the ability to change. These things are hard to do.
But unless we turn, we will be trapped forever in yesterday's ways.
God, help us to turn -- from callousness to sensitivity, from hostility to love, from pettiness to purpose, from envy to contentment, from carelessness to discipline, from fear to faith.
Turn us around, O God, and bring us back toward You.
Revive our lives, as at the beginning.
And turn us toward each other, God, for in isolation there is no life.
- Responsive Reading #634 from Singing the Living Tradition,
Unitarian Universalist Hymnal
Unitarian Universalist Hymnal
May this year be a year of blessings;
Blessings of goodness, blessings of joy,
Peace and kindness, friendship of love,
Creativity, strength, serenity,
Fulfilling work and dignity,
Satisfaction, success, and sustenance,
Physical health and radiance.
May truth and justice guide our acts
And compassion temper our lives
That we may blossom as we age
And become our sweetest selves.
-Rev. Tom Capo, Adapted, Falk, Book of Blessings