Sept 26 “The Windhover: To Christ our Lord” Gerard Manley Hopkins, sj

Monday – September 26  — A Treasure . . . “Buy the field”

People tell each other stories about what they see, and hear, and touch.  People listen to stories.   This ancient rhythm weaves humans together over and over.   We tell each other how we understand the wide world and little worlds.   At universities we talk about “research.”  And in my faith tradition, we tell each other what we perceive in words from scripture.   Telling and listening help make the world go round.   The passage of time sifts words, sorting out the not very good from the good and the very good.  But in a lifetime of listening you may notice a few sayings so compelling that they hold their shape as clear and unforgettable for decades.

Many people at the university have spent time and tears keeping vigil as Gerry Stockhausen, back in early January, labored with his dying in an Omaha hospital room kept company by some of the close women and men of his life.  After he died, some of Gerry’s soul friends gathered in Omaha, in Milwaukee, and here on campus in Detroit, to anoint him with our love after he had left us.  We told stories about him, sang songs he used to play and sing and lead for worship.  Once I heard Gerry preach a game-changer homily.   I write how I remember what he said then as a way of keeping vigil in these months since he died in that Omaha room.

Have a blest day,


john st sj

Today’s Post – a treasure in a field

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.”
(Matthew 13:44)

Gerry Stock’s homily, as I remember what he said that day:  “The saying tells of a treasure and a field.  Parables are not long and they reveal their meaning when you pay attention to the words.   This parable does not say, “He dug up the treasure, cleaned off the dirt, and carried the treasure away.”  If you want the treasure, Gerry told us, you have to take the whole field, everything in it, what you treasure and what you wish was not part of the deal.  It’s that way when you fall in love and decide to commit to each other: “For better, for worse”; good days and bad days; tenderness and fights; patience and impatience; grief and joy.  It’s that way, too, when you decide to take on a new job or move to a new city, or commit yourself to a process of reconciliation that invests you more deeply in some real and earthy person or place.”  This is how I remember what Stock said that one day some years ago.  I’ve not been the same since.

p.s.    One of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems comes to mind thinking of Stock these 8 months since he died and blessed many of this post’s readers with his presence in our memories.

Best to read the poem out loud, with pauses.  That’s especially true with Hopkin’s dense and demanding poems.   His poems open their meaning more after 3 or 4 readings.

  “The Windhover:  To Christ our Lord”

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in
his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy!  then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl
and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,–the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valor and act, oh, air, pride, plume here
Buckle!  And the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it:  shéer plốd makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, a my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins  28 July 1844 – 8 June, 1889



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