in the family of things

The photo shows Sue, aged about 20, visiting a Buddhist monastery in Ladakh. In many of the photos from her twenties Sue is surrounded by children – whether travelling in India, or volunteering in Austria with children with disabilities, or with VSO at a Romanian orphanage.

During Sue’s funeral I read the eulogy from my last post, Tim gave an outline of the rest of her life, her nephew Will played the guitar, and her niece Katy read the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. It’s a poem Sue will have known well, one that speaks to me and probably many of us.

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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