Sunday, November 13, 2005

As kingfishers catch fire...

Remember the Mary Oliver quote I shared last week: "I am sensual in order to be spiritual."

If there was ever a poet who engaged with nature through all of his senses it was Gerard Manley Hopkins. My God, how he loved the natural world.

But feared it too, as a distraction from God. The Jesuits, to whom he gave his short life, believed the senses were the enemy of sanctity, and beauty the Devil's snare. The young men at the Jesuit novitiate -- eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old -- were kept occupied every waking hour lest their idle senses become an occasion of sin. They were even given "modesty powder" for their bath to make the water opaque. See this week's Musing.