Sept 16 — “wage peace” Mary Oliver — remembering Bill Pauly, sj

Monday, September 16, 2019  “Wage Peace”  (1st posted December 2, 2013)

Friday, November 29, 2013 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 whenever he comes to mind, often.  This Mary Oliver poem to which he introduced me captures his earthiness and urgency and his passion for the sacred ordinary.

Welcome to this mid-September week of 2019 while my 3+ weeks on Pine Ridge, remembering as I walk or drive these roads and taste the stunning vistas of the Black Hills, c. 70 miles away.  The vistas frame what are to me still soul-stopping moments of stillness.   This year, after one year away from this home of c. 50 years I am living a sabbatical, like Bill lived one in 2013.

You are still one of my deep soul friends, Bill.  I miss you when I taste the flavors of this space which we shared for a while.

Best to read the poem outloud, with pauses.   Have a blest week.

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 – January 17, 2019


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