Monday September 12 Jim Wallis and Mary Oliver
I am taking liberties: linking Jim Wallis, founder of the Sojourners Community in Washington DC, and Mary Oliver, a poet of many decades, without asking them. Yesterday afternoon, I came from Jim Wallis’ talk in our Gesu Parish across the street from the university’s campus. He spoke of the “American Original Sin of White Privilege” with compelling biblical logic. I may be mis-remembering a little, but memory suggests that he concluded his talk to a full house of believers by focusing what had gone before with words close to these: “Conviction must open us to taking action.” Wallis meant, I think, that talking about the sin of white privilege and its consequences, and praying, is a work of grace; but insufficient. We must let our conversations and our prayer move us toward taking action in the world.
Perhaps that’s why later this evening when thumbing through Mary Oliver poems for Monday’s post, her “What I have learned so far,” caught my attention, especially her last two lines. Fresh from Jim Wallis’ talk, Mary Oliver’s trenchant words sound familiar to this day.
I found her poem requiring several readings, with pauses. But I say that most days, don’t I? Strong poems always do.
Have a blest work week.
Today’s post “What I have Learned So Far”
Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.
All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.
Be ignited, or be gone.
Mary Oliver b. 1935