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Posts tagged: Mary Oliver

Poetry, please

Sometimes one needs a poem. Here is one from Mary Oliver titled “Logos.” Seems liturgically appropriate given Lent is here.

Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

(S-R archive photo)

Mary Oliver: pay attention

Mary Oliver was the featured keynote speaker at Seattle University’s fourth annual Book Festival on Saturday.

Like most authentic human beings, she was humble, direct, quietly confident in her work – and a bit humorous. She read the favorites: The Journey, Wild Geese. And she read about her beloved Percy, her dog. She read without great drama, her crisp writing style needed no contrived flair.

But the Q/A after her poetry offered equal insight into the writer: When asked what her wisdom is for living a full life, she simply quoted herself: “Pay attention, be astonished and tell about it.”

While noting she has never been depressed - “I know it (depression) is real and exists, but I get up every day ready to get at it,”  - she says two things have saved her life: spending hours in the woods as a child and writing. She spent so much time with the two activities overlapping: she stored pencils in the trees. Pay attention, be astonished, tell about it…

Good Friday Poetry


The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.
Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.
The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.
Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did, maybe
the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn't move,
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wild awake.
Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.

~Mary Oliver, from her collection of poems, “Thirst”

On Good Friday, we embrace our humanity, our weakness, our courage, the human story of death to new life. Oliver's poem reminds us of the challenge we face when keeping vigil with those we love in times of suffering.

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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