Saturday, November 14, 2020

Integration By Parts: A Slightly Early Rumination

     Dear Lord, I have asked You on many occasions to help me remember to be grateful for all my blessings – and I have no doubt that You have answered those prayers, as You answer all others. Yet it is at the moment when goodness reveals itself to my senses...the very instant at which a new blessing is made manifest...that I am most prone to being absorbed wholly in it, to the exclusion of all else, even of You!

     It is a challenge, though not a paradox. For just as You are present in all places and times, are You not present in all things? You are the Progenitor, the Source. It is from Your will that the world proceeds. Yet in that moment of temporal sweetness, there is the temptation to immerse oneself completely in the gift but to omit consideration of the Giver.

     This is one prong of the lure of the World: that we, delighting in goodness, are tempted to forget to thank, praise, and glorify its Origin, He from whom goodness must flow. It mirrors and balances its dark half: the occasions when we, mired in difficulty or sorrow, are tempted to forget that You try no man beyond his strength, and will provide sustenance and succor to all who request it.

     You are present in all things...yet You donned human flesh, a tiny morsel of existence, through which to minister to us. In that there is a mighty lesson, one that teaches us something vital about what we, in our limitations, must do to make sense of the world: we must see it as parts, rather than as the indivisible whole, bound by laws no one can modify nor elude, that You have made. We could only pay proper attention to One who speaks we speak, acts as we act, and suffers as we suffer. Creation’s voice is too subtle for us to hear.

     Well, most of us, anyway:

Glory be to God for dappled things –
    For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
        For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
        And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

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.

– Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877 –

     (May God bless and keep you all.)

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