Bill Pauly, an Advent angel

November 30, early in this year’s Advent season

My Lakota daughter, Mary Tobacco, lives on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation.  For some years, she and Fr. Bill Pauly, sj walked and ran and drove across that same land. She and I talked about Bill this morning, each of us telling the other stories about Bill; stories of a man who died “too young.”  As we remembered him, Mary T said,  “if you could live in this hard world like him – – brave and strong and full of playful joy – –  you are an amazing person..”  I’ve taken to calling him “an Advent Angel.”  Here is the memorial I wrote for him several years ago, early into the Advent season that year.

“November 29 was the anniversary of Bill Pauly’s sudden death at 59, 2006, of a heart attack.  That year Bill played inside a lovely sabbatical after years of demanding pastoring on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation in western South Dakota.  Before Pine Ridge, Bill had been pastor in a South Milwaukee Hispanic parish.  Bill is a soul friend and we miss him at this time.   He loved beauty, and hospitality, and play, and sacred stillness.   Partly because of the date he died and partly because of the way he lived, Bill lives in my imagination as an Advent figure.  He did not fear grief or fatigue.

Bill also introduced me to the poet Mary Oliver.  There’s a lot of him in today’s post, ‘Wage Peace,’ and a lot of Advent too.  Best to read the poem out loud, with pauses.”

Have a blest Advent Monday when the weather looks to be teasing winter from a safe distance.

john sj

Today’s Post – Mary Oliver – “Wage Peace”

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 fields.
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.

my personal Advent Creche

Advent Angel, Hummel;
Celtic cross, Waterford;
Lakota medicine pouch, Don Montileaux

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