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 small 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.                                                                                                            Wherever you are, no matter how lonely,                                                                            the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like wild geese, harsh    and exciting —                                                                                                                            over and over announcing your place                                                                                    in the family of things.                                                                                                                     (Wild Geese,   by Mary Oliver)

We can get very caught up in trying to control things in our lives, trying to figure out “why”; and trying to analyze our past, present and future.  Sometimes we just need to stop striving so hard to get it right, or to be better, or to achieve greatness, and just let our life take its course.  Oh My Goodness!  I can think of a dozen motivational speakers and social activists whom I know personally, who would have a fit if they read this statement; but for me it rings very true.

I believe that letting ourselves just let our lives flow, at least for a while, can lead us to the exact place where we need to be.  Like the wild geese about whom Mary Oliver writes, you have a place in the family of this Universe; and like the wild geese, you do not have to constantly strive to be better or faster, or more.  You just have to let yourself do and be who and what you are; and allow your life to take the course it takes without always trying to figure things out and analyze.

It’s an occupational hazard, and perhaps the result of too much education, but I do have a tendency to analyze myself and my life, and to generally over-think things.  The other night when I was meditating on a planet (Venus) that is so clear this time of year from the courtyard of the desert house, I let my mind stop chattering, and I listened.  What came to my mind very clearly under that dark sky with the bright planet were the words, “Let it be.”  I meditated on those words for a minute, then turned to go back inside.  In my mind I thought, “OK, God, I got it!”  Then very clearly came the words, “No, Christopher, I’ve got this.”

Those words have continued to play in my mind all week.  Every time I start to over-think something, I hear the words, “Let it be.”  Then, I immediately calm down and am able to just let my life be what it is in that moment.

“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 just have to let the small animal of your body love what it loves.”

Let it be.

Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.                                                            May 3, 2017

## 5 thoughts on “Let It Be”

1. I’ve had that poem on the bulletin board in front of my desk for years. Thank you, Chris, for affirming the wonderful permission it grants: “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 just have to let the small animal of your body love what it loves.”

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2. I have many times been amazed by how many people who are mutual fans of Mary Oliver. I stumbled across a book of her collected poems many years ago, and was surprised at the rich meaning it communicated to me.

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3. Joe says:

I think of regrets. Things we wished we had done or not done in our past. Let that go and let it be. Maybe that has nothing to do with anything, but it speaks to me that way.

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4. That is one of many things I had in mind when I wrote this . . . Regrets.

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