Advent 2013: Charged with Grandeur

Beach still life

Objects found on the beach in front of my mother-in-law's house in LaConner on Thanksgiving day. Rosehips, an ochre rock, a leaf, and a big striated block of driftwood. Loretta also found what we think is a squirrel skeleton, smooth and bleached. 

When we're on that beach, something in us slows down. We take 10 minutes to walk a few feet, turning over rocks, picking up oyster shells, marveling at all the forms of life and death. I remember why my rule of "Go outside whenever possible" is psychologically sound. Whatever networks and ambitions we humans have created for ourselves, they are contrived next to the contours of any old piece of driftwood. Makes me think of Gerard Manley Hopkins and his (probably most famous) poem, written in 1918. Advent seems a good time to pull it out:

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to greatness like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men now wreck 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 share's 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 of 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. 


So beautiful. I have loved this poem since high school. I hope that, even in this cold week, you're being brushed by those bright wings.