Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Father Gerard Manley Hopkins

More of not my own thoughts that I want to share. This Jesuit priest and poet gave his own slant on the sacrament of the present moment in his description of the thisness of things. He called us to be present to this flower, this person, this sunrise. He loved nature and saw God clearly through His creation. Here is my favorite of his poems:

The Windhover

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, dappledawndrawn Falcon, in his riding

Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding high there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing in his ecstasy!

Then off, off forth on swing, as a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend; the hurl and gliding, rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding, stirred for a bird, -- the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valor and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.


I stumbled across Fr. Hopkins in a most providential way. I was typing at this computer, looking out the window and saw an unusual bird. The word "Kestrel" came to mind. I love birds, but know very little about them. I decided to look up the kestrel and found that this little bird in my backyard was not one. I was intrigued though and read about the kestrel, looked at some amazing pictures and thought about hawks and other solitary birds. Then, on the search, there was a poem listed under the nickname for kestrels, the windhover. The search showed, "to Christ Our Lord" and so I had to check it out. And so I found Fr. Hopkins. I've since taken a book out of his collected poetry, letters and sermons. A new friend; a new treasure! Then, the next day, what appeared in that backyard tree? Yup, a petite, and very beautiful, American Kestrel. Praise be to God.

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