Dec 4 — Bill Pauly, sj and Mary Oliver — “Wage Peace”

Monday, December 4 — Advent’s 1st week

These first days of Advent  — 4 weeks that dare us to imagine hope without denying violence, loss, and fear.  Year by year, they stir my blood and fill me with wonder —  work day cars moving women and men in a hurry, their driving  more confident in the light traffic.  Me?  I love the early dark, and the full moon hanging over the West side of our campus this early morning.

This year, to ease me into these 4 weeks, I re-visited the first week in December 2013 (the first year of the Work Day/Hard Times poetry list).  I found this Monday’s  post.  It’s partly an homage to a Jesuit soul friend who died too young and partly an homage to one of his gifts, introducing me to the poet Mary Oliver one hot summer day in Oglala South Dakota.

Advent blessings open me to joy even during recent mean and frightened language that doesn’t wear just on me,  perhaps on us all?   You may have read Mary Oliver here before.  Best to read her poetry slowly, with pauses, anticipating surprise.

Blessings on your work week.

john sj


Today’s Post  “Wage Peace”  (1st posted December 2, 2013)

Last Friday, November 29, was the anniversary of Bill Pauly’s sudden death at 59 of a heart attack while taking a lovely sabbatical after years of demanding pastoring on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation in western South Dakota.  Before Pine Ridge, Bill was pastor in a South Milwaukee Hispanic parish. Bill is a soul friend and I miss him especially at this time.  This Mary Oliver poem to which he introduced me captures his earthiness and urgency and his passion for the sacred ordinary.

Welcome to these last days of Term One.

john sj


“Wage Peace”  –  Mary Oliver

Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children and fresh mown

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.

Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don’t wait another minute.

Mary Oliver

September 10, 1935


p.s.  Today would be the birthday of one other soul friend, Art McGovern, sj would turn 88 today;  he died in May 2000 of cancer.  I miss him.

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