soft animals

Mary Oliver refers to humans as “soft animals” in her beloved poem “Wild Geese.”

I think this alternate name for ourselves is a way of releasing our sometimes unmanageable expectations of ourselves. It is interesting that often when we are at the end of our rope we will say, “but I’m only human– I make mistakes.”

It’s interesting because sometimes it feels like our limitations are a burden, rather than the expectations being the burden.

It is interesting because we feel the need to crawl for “hundreds of miles in the desert repenting” before we allow ourselves the gift to see ourselves as we are. Why must we first feel completely depleted to give ourselves grace?

I wonder what would happen, if we instead started at the place of rigorous grace? Started by recognizing that we are soft animals? Began by letting go of our expectations?