The name of this website comes from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, untitled:
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.
Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
I love several things about this poem. The first is Hopkins incredibly thought-out writing style, which he called “sprung rhythm.” It is sort of an advanced alliteration, along with the desire that not one word be superfluous, that every word express the feel and sense of the poem.
Another thing I love is the incredibly evocative images: a kingfisher catching the glint of the sun as he dives, a dragonfly as it darts, the ring of a stone as it tumbles down a well. It is the epitome of the stock writing advice, “show it, don’t say it.”
What I love most about this poem, though, is the idea that the world is God’s creation, and therefore everything in it is glorifying him just by being itself: The kingfishers and dragonflies catching the glint of the sun, (I saw a kingfisher in Morocco; they’re beautiful) are calling out, “I am me! This is who I am and what I do!”
Then in the second paragraph he declares that the same principle applies to the “just” man — a man (or woman) who is seeking God and living for him, i.e. acting “in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is.” As a kingfisher is created to dive for fish and a dragonfly to hover and dart after bugs, so each of us is created with a sense of purpose and seeks to fulfill that purpose. That purpose is the “restlessness” that Augustine talks about. For the Christian (literally “little Christ”) that purpose is to reflect Christ. And, Hopkins says, we do! Each of us, through our unique personalities, our gifts, our compassions, even our weaknesses and griefs glorify God. As Iraneaus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”
So this website/blog is dedicated to the ten thousand places that Christ “plays” (think the way light plays on the water rather than a child playing with toys); In nature, in art, in my beautiful friends, in YOU. Be! Be who you are, what you are, what you were created to be.
Yours in the journey,
I’m listening to the audiobook of Eugene Peterson’s “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places” right now; because of this poem and your blog. Gracias, Jessica!
As fallen mortals living in darkness, we do not instinctively know, as dragonflies or kingfishers do, who we are and what we were created to be. It is sad to think how many of us never really find out. Personally, I’m just beginning to get it , and I’m already 60 years old!
Jesus is our best example of a man who knew exactly who he was and what he was incarnated to be. I suppose part of being Christians, (“little Christs,” ) is coming to know that for ourselves, as God reveals it. It takes a lot of prayer, and a lot of self-examination.( “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates)
I love your blog, Jessica, and I love that you’re the kind of person to have this kind of blog. Is this part of who you are, and what you were created to be?
Father Keating says, “The term original sin is a way of describing the universal experience of coming to full reflective consciousness without the certitude of personal union with God.” This leads to our creating a false self to deal with our restlessness and fill that “God shaped hole” in us. He goes on to say that, “By consenting to God’s creation, to our basic goodness as human beings, and to the letting go of what we love in this world, we are brought to the final surrender, which is to allow the false self to die and the true self to emerge. The true self might be described as our participation in the divine life manifesting in our uniqueness.” “What I do is me; for that I came!” MOM