Ten Thousand Places

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.”


A common kingfisher::The kind found in Europe

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); 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,