I ask for the grace of being filled with wonder and awe at the natural vegetation that surrounds me in the places where I live, pray, serve and rest each day.
“God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ, from “Poems and Prose” (Penguin Classics, 1985):
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.
“The Place I Want to Get Back To” by Mary Oliver from “Thirst” (Beacon Press, 2006):
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
and the first light
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me
they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting
on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;
and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way
I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward
and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years
I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering,
Such gifts, bestowed,
can’t be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
How do I experience awe in my life?
Where does the beauty of creation most strike my heart?
When I step outside is there an aspect of nature that attracts me and invites me to linger? Or am I in a hurry and rush past the gift God is giving me this day? I talk with God about this.
Music: “What About” by Peter Breinholt
View the daily readings at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
Image via CNS/Tom Lorsung.