March 2nd, 2012

- 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
As Gerard Manley Hopkins penned in his poem "God's Grandeur" where the first line declares that "The world is charged with the grandeur of God" and his insightful view of the world, all those MANY years ago is both inspired and inspiring in its depth.  It speaks even more to our day.  Hopkins' view of the world as a place where the grandeur of God "will flame out, like shining from shook foil"   has been described as an "electrical current" - that sometimes God's presence becomes momentarily present as a 'flash' - not so much like a flash of lightning - but perhaps more in the way of enlightenment.

Sadly, in a great many cases, because of the routine of life, with its demands on our time and our need to work for a living, that thrust busy schedules and make demands of us, and even casue us to exploit our environment, we can, and often do, miss those momentarily 'electrical' flashes of the grandeur of God.  When we are in a place and space to receive them as the gift they are, such flashes are usually longer than just simply a 'flash'.  We become acutely aware that in all the changes and challenges of this fleeting life, God is present to us.    Such experiences are imprinted on our souls.

Last Saturday morning, after it had snowed all night, and the snow was heavy with moisture.  After a pretty good upper body workout, I succeeded in getting myself shovelled out when the city plow passed by and filled in the front of the driveway all over again.   I wasn't very pleased as the opportunity to join the 8:30am runners ( three showed up) slipped away.    But then I caught myself.  It is so much easier to grumble and complain.  It's much harder to pause, reflect and remember to give thanks.  So I paused to give thanks for the city snow removal crew who work hard at getting us moving again after a snowstorm.  Where would we be without them?    And the crew that gets the lights back on when the power goes out?
This busyness of life, and hurrying to fulfill our own agendas often robs us of our sensitivity to the grandeur of nature that declares the glory of a Creator God who, when all is said and done, is in control of all that is visible and that which is invisible.
When finally getting myself dug out which took a good hour or more, and two changes of sweaty clothes, I arrived at the L.B. Gym in time to meet up with Tony, Kay and Rick who had just returned from their run.

Tony gave good advice about where to run - along Charlotte Street as it was the only street plowed.  So off I set.   In my busyness of shovelling, I hadn't noticed the trees.    The branches were bent over from the weight of the water laden snow.   The tree-lined streets were just breathlessly beautiful.   Words alone cannot describe their beauty.    They were beyond description.   The branches were so laden and bent over with snow that it looked as if they were bowing down to the Creator of all this wonderful beauty that lay before me.   Such a wonderful sight always leaves me in awe of the majestic beauty of Mother Nature.
I ran by myself on Saturday morning.   The fresh snow-covered trees and the silence was renewing for the soul.   There was hardly anyone moving, very few cars about, although there were a great many people shovelling their driveways.  The odd snowblower broke the silence.  Some people paused in their shovelling efforts to watch the solitary runner run by.   I wondered what they were thinking?

It was a beautifully fresh morning.  When we take the time to become aware of our surroundings, there is a freshness that fills each morning.  There is a renewing power in each morning that as someone has noted "morning always awaits on the other side of dark night"  Sometimes is takes a break in the routine for us to notice.
As I ran along, thankful for the health to not only shovel the snow from my driveway, but for the health and strength to run, I was reminded of a prayer of thanksgiving we often pray here at the Church as we offer thanks to God for all gifts freely given to us, for life and health and safety, for power to work and leisure to rest, and for all that is beautiful in creation and in the lives of men, women and children.   It was indeed a wonderful fresh morning, made all the more wonderful as the clouds parted and blue blue sky made a brief appearance.   It was a morning that felt good to be alive, to see the simple beauty of a snowstorm that has spent all its energy covering the landscape with its blanket of white.

And the world is charged with the grandeur of God .....

the running rev!