Friday, March 1, 2013

Lovely in Limbs and Eyes

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves -- goes itself; _myself_ it speaks and spells,
Crying _What I do is me: for that I came_.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is --
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.
G.M Hopkins
Reflection - So, a new day, a new month, a new era in the Church, and (least importantly of all) a new blog to go with it. I wanted to start with returning to this poem by Hopkins which I quoted last week to you, explaining the title of the new blog.
Hopkins' poetry is both very beautiful, and very convoluted to read at times. This is one of his easier ones, actually. The whole sense here is that each created thing perpetually speaks its own name, tells its own truth, 'deals out that being indoors each one dwells.' The whole beautiful theology of the true is in this. We are not isolated fragments floating in a meaningless cosmic soup, bumping up against each other randomly.
Rather, every particle of being is communicating itself to every other, and we rational creatures have the awesome capacity to receive this communication. We have room in our minds, and so in our hearts, for all of creation. We can know, and knowing, love everything that is.
Hopkins says more, though. And that is this whole sense that all creation, but most especially the human creation, and most especially of that, the good, just man or woman of creation is not only speaking his or her own name, but Christ's. It is this whole sacramental sense of life I hope to bring forth on this blog at least some of the time. Whatever in reality is good, is true, is beautiful, is at least a reflection of Christ, and quite often is a true sharing in Christ's life and love.
Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limb and eyes. And in the perception of this -- and don't forget, we have to look for it, or we miss it! -- we come to the Father through the features of men's faces. And so in my new design for the blog, which I will doubtless be tweaking and adjusting in days to follow, I have faces, faces, faces running down the side. These particular faces are ones who have touched my life and shown me the Father, at least a little bit. No doubt I will be adding more as time goes on.
It is this whole beautiful reality that God comes to us in other people. Other people are not 'God', exactly - God is God alone - but there is a sacramentality that is very real and very important. Each of us is meant to be a sacrament of sorts - we do not only speak our own name, but His. Our lives are not only about our own truth, but His. Our faces are not our own, but are mirrors of His. And this is what I will try to look for and reflect on in the blog ahead.
Otherwise... meet the new blog, same as the old blog. I still have lots of material from Joseph Ratzinger and have no intention of keeping it to myself. No doubt the new pope's face will adorn the blog shortly, and I will delve into his writings and public addresses. And... well, we will see. And I hope you will all continue to join me as I throw my little bit into the social media maelstrom, doing my best to show God's face in this strange digital world.


  1. Would you please identify the pictures on the left? I recognize some, but not all, of them, and would like to know more about the faces you have chosen.

    1. From the top... Joseph Ratzinger, Catherine and Eddie Doherty, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Therese of Lisieux, C.S. Lewis, St Augustine, Dorothy Day, Gerard Manley Hopkins, G.K. Chesterton, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Jerome... a few of my best friends, basically. More to follow - this is my first effort!

  2. I love your new title and your reasons for choosing it. This is beautiful and inspiring. So joyful to have found this site. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing and insights.


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