Oct 3 – The Messenger – Mary Oliver

Monday October 3

“ . . .  my work
which is standing still and learning to be astonished.”

Today’s post I’m writing at the Maritime Institute just 15 minutes from Baltimore’s airport.   About 80 people have been gathered by the collective national presence of The Sisters of Mercy in the world of higher education.  What is the current state of the health of our culture of work among the 16 colleges and universities — students and faculty and support staff that treat their heritage of  “Mercy” as their soul.  Like conferences everywhere, people meet and talk and listen with each other, over coffee or wine or water.   Our last plenary speaker today, John Collins, C.Ss.R. invited us to listen while he read Mary Oliver’s “The Messenger.”   As many of Mary O’s poems as I’ve posted I had not met this one.

It’s lovely and evocative.  Try reading it out loud.

Back in Detroit Monday evening.

I hope your work week is beginning well.


john sj

Today’s Post    “The Messenger”

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird — equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth
and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all,
over and over, how it is that we live forever.


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