I’m a big fan of Mary Oliver, who was one of America’s most famous and brilliant poets. She wrote a whole book of poetry about dogs! Mostly, she wrote in and about the natural world, often carrying a notebook with her to jot down thoughts as she walked outdoors. Since April is National Poetry Month, I decided to re-read some of her poetry today, including one of her most famous, Wild Geese:
When I read the poem today I could “hear” Gunny, my beloved soul mate dog, reading it to me. That may sound odd to you if you haven’t read our book, The Endless Path. You see, Gunny was able to communicate his profound and insightful thoughts clearly through his animal communicator. By the time he died – ten years ago this month – our hearts had become one. I knew him as well as he knew me. So, I can confidently say that he would’ve loved this poem. Here’s why.
Like so many of us, Gunny was a complicated soul. He made mistakes like we all do, and he owned them. But he certainly didn’t think it was necessary to walk on his knees through the desert because of it! Like Mary Oliver, he loved the beauty of the world around us. He firmly believed that all beings, human and non-human alike, are important and have their place in this world – in the family of things. He knew that we are all connected to each other, human and non-human alike. More than anything, he believed in the power of love.
Gunny would’ve embraced Mary Oliver’s words: “you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Lucky for me, what he loved most was me. And what I loved most was him. When I was in despair over losing him after almost 15 years, sure enough, the world went on around me. The rivers kept flowing; the wild geese kept flying home. I was so lonely for so long after he died. But still, the world called to me, offered itself to my imagination. It told me that I had a place in the family of things. I think my place is to love as much, and as best, as I can. And also to spread Gunny’s love and wisdom as far and wide as I can.
You have a place in the family of things, too. Your dog has a place in the family of things. Your cat, the squirrel in your yard, the lions in Africa, and the polar bears all have a place in the family of things. We are the family of things. We are all connected to each other, human and non-human alike. Keep listening to the world, for it is calling to you and announcing your place with us in the family of things, as well.
Thank you all for the kindness and love you’ve shown me as I travel on this Dog Lovers Guru road that Gunny mapped for me. Thank you, Mary Oliver, for your words. Most of all, thank you my beloved Gunny. I feel you still and I love you still. The most important thing I’ve ever been in the family of things is your human companion on this wild ride through life.