Wild Geese was the first Mary Oliver poem I ever heard.  My first meditation teacher, Roger Nolan, read it aloud at the close of a workshop and I felt like Oliver's words went right into my soul.  They matched the feeling of the moment for me completely.  Here is that poem - 

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.

 - Mary Oliver

Later, I listened to Krista Tippet's interview with Mary Oliver via On Being and then I just wanted to BE Mary Oliver (in my own way).  I wanted our meditations to give you FEELINGS and see the BEAUTY that surrounds us, even in the harshest times.  I wanted to write in a way that would wake you up; that when you took off your headphones or opened your eyes or looked up from the page you would see the world in a new way.

I may never get there, but I will never stop trying.  To tide you over, here are some more of my favorites (even though everything she ever wrote is MY FAVORITE!).  : ) 

"Once, years ago, I emerged from the woods in the early morning at the end of a walk and - it was the most casual of moments - as I stepped from under the trees into the mild, pouring-down sunlight I experienced a sudden impact, a seizure of happiness. It was not the drowning sort of happiness, rather the floating sort. I made no struggle toward it; it was given. Time seemed to vanish. Urgency vanished. Any important difference between myself and all other things vanished. I knew that I belonged to the world, and felt comfortably my own containment in the totality. I did not feel that I understood any mystery, not at all; rather that I could be happy and feel blessed within the perplexity."

-     Mary Oliver

The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you, my darlings.
All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It's more than bones.
It's more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It's more than the beating of the single heart.
It's praising.
It's giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life - just imagine that
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
still another.

 - Mary Oliver


Every morning

the world

is created. 

Under the orange 


sticks of the sun

the heaped

ashes of the night

turn into leaves again 


and fasten themselves to the high branches ---

and the ponds appear

like black cloth

on which are painted islands 


of summer lilies. 

If it is your nature

to be happy

you will swim away along the soft trails 


for hours, your imagination

alighting everywhere. 

And if your spirit

carries within it 


the thorn

that is heavier than lead ---

if it's all you can do

to keep on trudging --- 


there is still

somewhere deep within you

a beast shouting that the earth

is exactly what it wanted --- 


each pond with its blazing lilies

is a prayer heard and answered


every morning, 


whether or not

you have ever dared to be happy, 

whether or not

you have ever dared to pray. 

 - Mary Oliver


The Swan


Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?

Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -

An armful of white blossoms,

A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned

into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,

Biting the air with its black beak?

Did you hear it, fluting and whistling

A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall

Knifing down the black ledges?

And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -

A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet

Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?

And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?

And have you changed your life?

 - Mary Oliver