Soul Poem for the New Year

Mary Oliver authored a wonderful poem called The Journey. I believe it contains an insightful perspective of the moment when we are called to make some kind of leap forward in our lives. It begins evocatively, “One day you finally knew what you had to do and began it“. I frequently recite this poem as an introduction to spiritual coaching. It offers a beautiful context to consider the nature of the soul journey and that transition is often a necessity for change and growth. The decision to start spiritual coaching often emerges from a time of confusion, a sense that you need to shift the direction of your life but don’t know how to proceed, Mary Oliver conveys a remarkable sense of the unfolding drama of change.

One day you finally knew what you had to and began it. Though the voices were shouting their bad advise and the whole house began to tremble. And you felt the old tug at your ankle; mend my life each voice cried but you didn’t stop, you knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations and their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough and a wild night. The road full of fallen branches and stones but little by little as you left their voices behind the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds and there was a new voice that you slowly recognized as your own that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you can do, determined to save the only life you can save.”

To me Mary Oliver is perhaps the quintessential American poet, her depth, her wisdom and that soulfulness that inhabits so many of her poems creates a wonderful perspective for the concept of soul journey. This poem reminds us that we must make our own way, that we will feel resistance both from within and without, at times it may be stormy but light will begin to shine.


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