Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

Love, Stillness and Action

The Gift
Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful.
That the gift has been given.

~ Mary Oliver

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God!

Psalm 46:8-10

The poet and the psalmist have the true message. We have to slow down to truly feel the loving touch of God’s hand. We are in the midst of this Advent season and are waiting for the coming. At first thought, the waiting should be in stillness and calm but that not the way it is at all. We are so rushed and busy with the many responsibilities and obligations of the season. There are gifts to buy, parties to go to, special church services to attend, and for most of us, Christmas will be a relief. It is a relief, because we can slow down and rest from the “holidays” that our world has created.

Let me urge you to think in a counter-cultural way. Try to see these coming days between now and Christmas day as a time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas is love.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  (John 3:16) The true joy of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love. That is so easy to forget in the social cacophony of competing ideas that surround us. Let us resolve not to be carried away by popular culture or religious extremism.

A few suggestions:

  • Give something to a total stranger. (not just a homeless person)
  • Take the time to make eye contact and speak to store clerks who serve you.
  • Reaffirm your love(with words) to your family and friends.
  • Pay someone a compliment.
  • Share your belief in the love of the God of Christmas with someone.
  • Attend worship on Christmas Eve.
  • Don’t argue about Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.
  • Reconcile with someone.
  • Pray.
  • Spend a little time in silence every day.

ReconcileThose are just a few of the many things that we can do in this season if we just slow down and look outside of ourselves. I am sure that you can think of some on your own,  but you have to be still long enough to do so. I hope that you can find a way to grab the opportunities that come with the Christmas season.


Lord, there are times when I just want to ask your help so that I may just spend some time living like you. May I follow the example of Jesus as I share the love that was modeled by Him. Such a love is without strings or stipulation but merely a love that is waiting to be accepted. Let me reach out with open arms to all. May you guide in my decisions this season and allow me to be a source of blessing to those I touch.



Filed under Advent, Love, Mary Oliver

Morning Poem

Every morning

the world

is created.

Under the orange pond

sticks of the sun

the heaped

ashes of the night

turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —

and the ponds appear

like black cloth

on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.

If it is your nature

to be happy

you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination

alighting everywhere.

And if your spirit

carries within it

the thorn

that is heavier than lead —

if it’s all you can do

to keep on trudging —

there is still

somewhere deep within you

a beast shouting that the earth

is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies

is a prayer heard and answered


every morning,

whether or not

you have ever dared to be happy,

whether or not

you have ever dared to pray.

——Mary Oliver

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Filed under Mary Oliver, Poems

Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?


Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.

It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.

The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.

The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.


But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white

feet of the trees

whose mouths open

Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?

Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,

until at last, now, they shine

in your own yard?


Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.


When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking

outward, to the mountains so solidly there

in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea

that was also there,

beautiful as a thumb

curved and touching the finger, tenderly,

little love-ring,


as he whirled,

oh jug of breath,

in the garden of dust?

——Mary Oliver

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Filed under Mary Oliver, Poetry

Song of the Builders

On a summer morning

I sat down

on a hillside

to think about God –


a worthy pastime.

Near me, I saw

a single cricket;

it was moving the grains of the hillside


this way and that way.

How great was its energy,

how humble its effort.

Let us hope



it will always be like this,

each of us going on

in our inexplicable ways

building the universe.

Mary Oliver

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Morning Glories

Blue and dark-blue

Morning Glories

Morning Glories 


rose and deepest rose
white and pink they

are everywhere in the diligent
cornfield rising and swaying
in their reliable

finery in the little
fling of their bodies their
gear and tackle

all caught up in the cornstalks.
The reaper’s story is the story
of endless work of

work careful and heavy but the
reaper cannot
separate them out there they

are in the story of his life
bright random useless
year after year

taken with the serious tons
weeds without value
humorous beautiful weeds.

——Mary Oliver

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Psalm 23 Re-visted

Psalm 23 is one of the best known portions of scripture in the world. I have seen it expressed in many version, and the one below is a very thoughtful for today’s times. Perhaps y0u may want to recite it s few times today. 

The Lord is my pace setter . . . I shall not rush

He makes me stop for quiet intervals

He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity

He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace

Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his presence is here

His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance

He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility

My cup of joyous energy overflows

Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the Pace of my Lord and dwell in his house for ever.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

—― Mary Oliver

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Filed under Christian Living, Comfort, contemplative, Psalm 23