Saturday, January 22, 2005

Double Edges

A few years ago I started praying to see both the physical and the spiritual worlds at once. Before anyone gets worked up about this, let me make it very clear that I'm not talking Frank Peretti: demons lurking behind trashcans and public toilets with angels waiting just outside swinging the heavenly handcuffs. No. I'm talking Gerard Manley Hopkins:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Increasingly my prayer is being answered; I see more brokenness in the world than I ever did before, and I see more glory, usually in the same places. Both stun. Both can break your heart, even in the everyday. They're as commonplace as the shock of your knee taking the brunt of a fall onto concrete, as ordinary as the flash of light glancing off a sheet of ice or sparkling in a grain of quartz in the sidewalk beneath you. Just as painful. Just as dazzling.

(A note: Because I'm coding impared, I don't know how to indent lines 2,3,6,7,10, 12 and 14, of Hopkins' poem, as they should properly be. I apologise.)


Anonymous said...

Great Scott! says:

I think I would be afraid to see that much reality.

r said...

You know, Cindy, I am with you. I live in the land of the weary trying so desperately to earn their salvation by good works. When I first moved here, I was just so repulsed by the garments, the temple talk, the constantproselytizing. I have prayed much, and it seems that God is changing my heart of stone into flesh. I can see their weakness as comparable to my own and that humbles me greatly in view of my initial responses to them.

Cindy said...

Scott--I'd hate to live in the reality you do everyday! Secondary school teaching is a lot harder than what I do, Hon!

Rae--Being human isn't all it's cracked up to be, eh? :) On either end of the perception.