A Poem About Acceptance and Presence

A happy and unexpected outcome of my participation on the MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) teacher training course is engaging with poetry once more.  Something I haven’t really done since my days studying A Level English Literature.

During the last session I was introduced to this poem below by Mary Oliver.  As it was read to me I had a real sense of acceptance and perspective.

nature bird water animal

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Wild Geese

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.


Mary Oliver


I’d love to hear your thoughts about this poem.


handwritten Hayley



  1. October 27, 2018 / 9:50 am

    We used to live near a river, I loved hearing the geese fly over and seeing them on the water #satsesh@_karendenbid199@gmail is

  2. October 27, 2018 / 1:44 pm

    What a beautiful Poem you have chosen, thanks for sharing X #thesatsesh

  3. October 27, 2018 / 3:50 pm

    Harsh and exciting? That’s life alright! #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      October 28, 2018 / 8:44 pm

      So true!

  4. thesingleswan
    October 28, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    I love this poem, and yes, it is most definitely a lovely benefit of your course. Pen x #thesatsesh

  5. October 29, 2018 / 8:24 pm

    #thesatsesh is it wrong that as an adult i still like my poems to rhyme? note to self: i need to read more poetry and get over myself lol.

    • onamindfulmummymission
      October 29, 2018 / 9:20 pm

      Ha ha ha – it’s not wrong at all! xx

  6. October 31, 2018 / 2:16 pm

    My favourite part was the beginning:

    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.

    Reading this I can understand why it was chosen for a mindfulness training. We need to be more like the geese.

    Thanks for hosting #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      November 6, 2018 / 9:14 pm

      So, so true lovely lady. XX

  7. November 2, 2018 / 10:25 am

    This is a lovely poem Hayley, thank you for sharing. I’m somewhat familiar with Mary Oliver’s poems through a facebook page (and blog etc) that I’ve been following for about 2.5 years now. It’s called ‘Kreed’s World: A Complex Journey Through Autism”, and when I started following it, I felt like I’d found a boy who was just like our Penguin in many ways, though older (18). He did have some ongoing health issues, but when he was taken seriously ill and died, not that long after I’d started following their page, it was very painful to put it mildly.
    Thankfully, Kreed’s mum Erin has continued writing through the grief, although with some periods of silence, understandably. For a while, she shared a lot of Mary Oliver poems, and that was my first experience of this poet, and my only one until your post here.
    It’s crazy how much you can ‘miss’ a person you’ve never even met. xx

    • onamindfulmummymission
      November 6, 2018 / 9:13 pm

      Oh my goodness that has made me stop for a moment – what a heartbreaking story and how brave of the Mother to continue to post. I can see how people can find solace in poetry – it had never really struck me until recently. xx

      • November 8, 2018 / 2:46 pm

        Words can sometimes have a similar therapeutic effect to music, I think… a poem, a song, a tune; They can align with our feelings, comfort us, and so on xx

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