The Mindful Meanwhile

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 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


It’s just a word.

Yet as I read it three times in Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese, I’m reminded that Meanwhile is why I practice Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga.

Each time I get to Meanwhile I am rattled out of my own internal dialogue, distress and sometimes-despair and for a moment my inner attention spontaneously wakes up to the present moment.

Nothing magical or mystical – in that fleeting moment I can simply see how the sun lights up the blades of grass and wildflowers, how the breeze feels on my skin, or how the quiet of night is spacious. I’m aware of the aliveness I am swimming in – the Meanwhile.

And just as quickly my aware connection to Meanwhile gets gobbled up again and I’m not sure what any of it means – the smallness of my ego or the vastness of Meanwhile.

I do know whether I understand or not (or even want to or not) that Meanwhile continues to call to me – spontaneously revealing itself – announcing for me and to me my place in the family of things.

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