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.
— Gerard Manely Hopkins
I was talking with an artist friend of mine the other day – she’s a photographer, the kind that sees deeper with her camera, and then seeks even further than that. She was telling me about a project she’s working on currently – something to do with flesh – and she, at some point in describing the process and how she wasn’t sure if what she had was anything of consequence, said there was a moment when a glimmer caught her eye and she realized, there’s something here.
the dearest freshness deep down things
I have not forgotten those words from her mouth, nor that look on her face.
It was profound, I think. Profound because those are the words I am constantly longing to know. To see something shimmer and gleam for just a moment, to catch just a glimpse of the truest word about something, someone. And yet, it was common place. We sat in the coffeeshop where I work, in the seats I sweep clean, with our feet on the floors I mop most every night; and when we were done talking, we gathered our belongings in our arms and went on with the usual of the day. It was nothing necessarily extraordinary, it was not some unheard-of revelation. Yet, it woke something in me. It reminded some words long still and silent in my chest that they had voice and space to move about.
Last night, Andrew Peterson somehow made his way from Nashville to the far away land of Greeley, Colorado, and there he and his companion, Ben, played their songs in the simplest, most usual way. This is what they do. These are the floors they mop most every night. They swayed and hummed and the music came from the place that words have voice and space to move about. And Andrew, as he was singing the songs he’s sung a hundred times, would every once in a while choke on the words a bit, because they were true, and the truth of those words is the deepest hope of man, because they speak to the truest words. He cried as a man longing for his home. And his tears and his truth reminded something in me that it could rest and not be so afraid. It opened my eyes a bit wider and reminded them of all there is to look for, to see. They felt a bit like the Lover of all things looked at me with a lover’s passion, and an artist’s wonder, and said there’s something here.