Tonight I was at Theology on Tap, and one of the speakers asked some questions I didn’t feel like answering. I don’t want to answer them now either. So I’m sharing them with you. And making it my delayed poetry dose for the week — I think that “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver (a perennial classic and you can hear her read it at On Being) answers them well.
The questions were about counting. The speaker recounted her experience of counting hotel points and airline miles, needing to know when she was going to level up to the next tier. We, she said, might be counting pounds, likes, weekend invitations, achievements at work, etc etc etc. Filling up our lives with numbers that signify our worth. In my case: steps, blog views, Instagram likes, loss on the scale, texts received, personal emails received, and SO ON.
But here was her point:
What are we counting? What are we using to create a sense of worth and security? If we’re not living life surrendered to God, we’re living in bondage to something else.
Womp. Got me. That’s all. I don’t have any solutions. I’ll just be over here checking my FitBit app and worrying about the fact that I’m checking my FitBit app. That’s definitely a whole new world of bondage to my counting. Jeez Louise.
IN THE MEANTIME…
Wild Geese – 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.