Gerard Manley Hopkins writes of God’s Grandeur, speaks to his despair at a world “bleared, smeared…” that “wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell…”(Poems That Will Change Your Life, 198). But the angst extinguishes in his last lines, the lyric of real hope we all can find.
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
Why my keyboard taps chase me to these pages, as always, a bit of mystery. I, distressing through these past few weeks and finding the brown side of sunsets, found heart-lifting dialogue with one of the many doctors seen. “Why not journal about the good things? Keep track through the aches and issues unknown of your God’s gifts and blessings.” And then this poem – a Holy Ghost with “bright wings.”
Kitty Nani tucks against my mouse-guiding arm and hand, that little body push of “ok, you can have this, but let’s get to me pretty soon, right?” Wednesday warm air invites many sparrows and a cardinal or two to test the softening snow surface, to search the bare branches for a wayward berry or perhaps a bug of some sort. Scampering squirrels enrapture both kittens with their weird hither, yon jerking scramble for, well, what exactly? Around the corner stands that majestic black walnut, large-trunked and tall – thick arms spanning out, veined with twigs and soon to be green with spring leaves. Destined to become but a smudge as the smell of chain saw cuts before the yard thaws, before heavy equipment tears the sod. Tugs of sad pop up all too often. Suddenly just “there”, they snip at the bright feathers of winged spirit, don’t want that holiness around, require a mind twist back to forward, to the eastward springing.
Through all my nagging, petty little worries that clung to my days despite prayers and grasped for hope and assurance, doctors brought God’s relief this past Monday. No cancer in the kidney – benign; no cancer in the lung – benign calcification with no blood supply. I put all in God’s hands, but didn’t seem to know the peace that should bring. Because I let despair speak in my world, let “me” blear and smudge the promise that God’s grace will provide the continuing journey REGARDLESS of human frailty outcomes. The peace I felt in the ambulance on September 17, 2017, when I settled into the discomfort of the gurney and prayed, “God, I am yours to take. If this ride brings death, serious consequence, or some form of recovery – I give myself to Your Will.” What settled on my spirit I still cannot describe other than to know the Hand of God was with me, an incredible ease of emotion, a settling into a down-filled infinity of peace. The rock and sway and jolts did not matter – I knew Him in those moments and hours ahead. That confidence got left out in my past weeks – I got into a “come on, what next?” mode that scratched my faith, made “leaving my worries at the foot of Christ’s cross” donned in plastic. And in this second, I spy the Emily Dickinson book of Collected Poems, randomly open to page 8:
I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!
Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.
In true faith, any real difficulty can be overcome. As Theodore Vail said, “…it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.”