Tag Archives: nature

Worship Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 24, 2017

worship word cloud

Worship Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Fr. Hopkins was born in England, studied at Oxford, and converted to Catholicism. He became a Jesuit priest, serving as teacher, scholar, preacher and administrator. He was also a poet, and wrote to document and celebrate God’s glories in nature.

Two short poems are included in this excerpt. In the first, Fr. Hopkins talks of grandeur at the beginning: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” “Shining,” “flame out,” “greatness.” This is Hopkins’ starting point. However, things soon get messed up from there. Sadly, “seared…bleared, smeared” come next in the downward procession. “Smudge“ and “smell” are certainly unpleasant words and thoughts.

What kinds of things do these two overarching images mean to you? The first, pleasant and even wondrous. The second word? Irritating, perhaps even weary, come to mind. The poem makes me think of the height, length and breadth of the night sky: showing a number of different kinds of emotions.

And, the complete stanza:
“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.” [1]

 

Dear Lord, gracious God, praise to your name. My words are so paltry and poor, they can barely stand on the same page with Fr. Hopkins and his words of grandeur and power. Thank You for poets who write so beautifully. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

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[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 266.

A Prayerful Look at the Marvels of Nature

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 11, 2015

bluebird and lilacs

A Prayerful Look at the Marvels of Nature

My prayer guide was specific today. Check out nature.

Watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset. (It was cloudy and overcast today, so no luck there.) Or, contemplate the waves of the ocean, a mountain lake, a waterfall. (Sort of difficult to do, seeing as I don’t live by either the ocean or the mountains. I could have gone to Lake Michigan today, but it was really blustery, and the temperature was dropping. It will be in the single digits overnight.)

Another suggestion was to look closely at a tree, a leaf, a beetle, or an animal. I did the next best thing, on this windy and chill and blustery day. I looked at a bird’s nest. My son had found a bird’s nest on the grass under a tree some two years ago. He still has it in a drawer in his room. So, I looked at the nest closely.

My instructions? “As you contemplate God’s creation, try to come to a better appreciation of God’s beauty, power, goodness, love, wisdom.”

I examined this nest—this creation of one of God’s creatures—with great interest. I’ve always been interested in birds and their nests, ever since I found one up in the cherry tree in my mom’s backyard in Chicago. (I found a nest, I mean. Not with a bird in it.)

This particular nest is in excellent condition. I suspect it could be used by any bird of the right size this coming spring. Just looking at it, the nest seems to fit a bird about the size of a robin. (I know smaller birds use smaller nests.) Marvelous construction! Larger branches are used at the bottom. Mid-sized branches and twigs daubed with some kind of mud hold the whole thing together. Plus, swirled, dried grasses line the inside of the nest to make a soft cushion for the eggs, and afterwards, the newly hatched chicks.

I am reminded of where Jesus talks about birds of the air in Matthew 6. He mentions that God the Father watches out for them, just like with this nest. Yes, I am in awe at this nest. This home for a bird, and resting place for eggs, and later, baby birds. Such a wonderful method of construction, and made with economy of materials. I would like to see humans make as functional a home for a bird in such a neat, tidy and well-made way. (Kudos to all of you, birds!)

God, You said You would watch out for me just as much as You watch out for all the birds. I know I have nothing—well, very little—to complain about! But Lord, please, help me to have faith in You. Give me the patience, hope and perseverance to keep on keeping on. And, thank You for such a marvelous object lesson from a bird’s nest.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.