Monday, July 29, 2013
On the way home, I had noticed the sky. The departing sun was shining through the clouds and the blue and white ripples in the heavens caught my attention ... and I commented: "What a pretty sunset."
We pulled into the garage, unloaded the car of the shopping bags and I proceeded to "get busy" in the kitchen making a frozen German chocolate pie. I picked up some recyclable bags and boxes and ran outside to toss them in the bin, and there it was -- the most beautiful orange sunset literally ablaze with the grandeur of God! I could almost see Him shouting from His throne with his holy hands clasped around his mouth, "Surprise!!!" I stood there in awe for a moment, my heart swelling, and then I thought, "Get your camera, you fool!"
Surprise. A beginning of that fullness we call gratefulness.
I was grateful for that sunset that evening for more reasons than one. For some time, I had been wondering just how many times I could count "birds at my feeder" as gift -- because they really do bless me. The sunset helped me to settle my answer. Would you not agree that evening after evening after evening -- ever since God created the moon and stars, there has been a daily sunset? And this particular night it surprised me afresh. But it wasn't the first time it had done so. I am constantly "taken," surprised, by the outpouring of His glory in the skies. I think, too, of a particular spot of road when I go to the beach. I know when I get there, I will see the expanse of the ocean, and yet, every single time, I'm surprised by it. My breath is taken away. It's fresh again. And what about rainbows? Do we ever tire of those surprises? Thus far, I have found no one who does. So why should the birds at the feeder each morning not do the same thing for me? Is it not fresh? Is it not new?
No, our sense of surprise is triggered not only by the extraordinary, but, above all, by the ordinary -- like birds at a feeder and spiders with "crowns." Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, "Nature is never spent," and how right he was. The surprise of that "dearest freshness" is present in the most ordinary things.
After a lengthy stay of just watching the sun slip slowly behind the horizon, I returned to the kitchen ... full and grateful.
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 feel, 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 with ah! bright wings.
Gerard Manley Hopkins