Are You Ready To Be Charged With the Grandeur of God ?

As we get nearer to celebrating the birth of Jesus I was struck by how this well known poem by Hopkins fits into late Advent events when the world is perhaps a little more ready/sensitised to be "charged with the grandeur of God."  and "the expectation of the eternal.

God’s Grandeur

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 tell, 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 ah! bright wings.

All things counter, original, spare, strange,
Whatever is fickle, freckled, who knows how
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers forth whose beauty is past change.
Praise him.

Given these clear, strong proofs of God’s presence in the world, the poet asks how it is that humans fail to heed (“reck”) His divine authority (“his rod”).

"It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;" 

The brightness of the Eastern star is almost ready to announce the birth and shines through the darkness of our lives, shaking us out of our winter comfort blankets and dark torpor.  

Wake up it says !!

The heart of God inside a body of flesh will flame out into our lives.

The likening of God’s presence as a rich oil, a sap that wells up “to a gathering of greatness” when tapped with a certain kind of patient pressure resonates with the waiting and patience of Advent and Mary carrying the unborn Jesus now almost at the end of her pregnancy. 

As we get to the fourth and final week of Advent we are moving closer to a point where if we stop and pause and listen we may be able to hear.....

the heartbeat of God, 
the quickening pulse pressure 
the wave of love that is ready to surge and breach through into the world. 

The origin of the heartbeat is electrical.

I wonder if we are ready to be re- charged with the driving force and energy of God in our lives, the fuse that will spark new life in us?

Inside her womb, the membranes surrounding the well of amniotic fluid are stretching 

and the near term growing Jesus is also welling up to the great gathering moment of Incarnation.

"The soil Is bare now, nor can foot tell, being shod. "

We in the comfort of our homes are far removed from the harsh conditions that Mary and Jesus faced.  We are far removed from that sort of dire poverty, so often divorced from the consequences of our greed. The food we eat is increasingly purchased at high cost to the wretched who produce it and the unsustainable farming methods that bleed the soil dry.

Yes, we are shod because of our affluence and yes, we tread heavily on the bare feet and lands of the poor who make our food as from our giant "ecological footprint" . 

The quaint portrayal of the perfect nativity scene shies away from the reality of a natural birth in a bone- chilling freezing stable with cattle, and the only visitors the shepherds who were despised in their time. ( The wise men came much later !!)

"And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell:"

"for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;"

The freshness and excitement of the new life of Jesus burgeoning deep down in the womb is what we long for.

The star of wonder in the Eastern sky attracts our focus

"Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—


"because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods 

with warm breast 
and ah! bright wings."

The Holy Ghost/Spirit as symbolic dove but also the brooding mother watches and protects Mary who is ready to give birth and to suckle the infant at her warm breast.

The bright wings of the Holy Spirit are gathering ready to hover above the earth and the angels prepare to bring the message to the shepherds the same message that reaches  down through the generations to reach us NOW !

When Pope Benedict kicked off the Advent season for the Church he spoke of presence, that is, the presence of the Lord – “to contemplate the Lord present.” and for anyone with a listening monastic heart, these words in particular will appeal: he asked us to "pause in silence to understand a presence.” 

He also spoke of keeping “an interior journal” every time one gets a glimpse of our Lord’s love. The Pope said that our Lord “speaks to us in many ways,” and also important in that relationship, “He always listens to us.” 

As Advent is the “expectation of the eternal,” it is a period of “an interiorized joy.” 

Here is an excerpt of Pope Benedict’s homily.

 "Dear brothers and sisters, let us experience intensely the present in which we already receive the gifts of the Lord, let us live it focused on the future, a future charged with hope. 
In this manner Christian Advent becomes an opportunity to reawaken within ourselves the true meaning of waiting, returning to the heart of our faith which is the mystery of Christ, the Messiah who was expected for long centuries and was born in poverty, in Bethlehem. 
In coming among us, He brought us and continues to offer us the gift of His love and His salvation.

Present among us, He speaks to us in many ways: in Sacred Scripture, in the liturgical year, in the saints, in the events of daily life, in the whole of the creation whose aspect changes according to whether Christ is behind it or whether He is obscured by the fog of an uncertain origin and an uncertain future. 

We in turn may speak to Him, presenting to Him the suffering that afflicts us, our impatience, the questions that well up in our hearts. We may be sure that He always listens to us! 

And if Jesus is present, there is no longer any time that lacks meaning or is empty. If He is present, we may continue to hope, even when others can no longer assure us of any support, even when the present becomes trying.

Dear friends, Advent is the season of the presence and expectation of the eternal. For this very reason, it is in a particular way a period of joy, an interiorized joy that no suffering can diminish. It is joy in the fact that God made Himself a Child. 

This joy, invisibly present within us, encourages us to journey on with confidence......."

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