As Kingfishers Catch Fire

I’ve recently been meditating on one of the great works of the Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. The impressionistic poem, 'As Kingfishers Catch Fire', for me, captures brilliantly the essence of God’s glory being seen clearest when we are doing what comes naturally, fulfilling what we are created to be.

Embracing colour and sound, the first line refers to the blue scattering of light as the bird swoops down towards its prey.  The dragonfly draws flame, stones ring out, strings pluck all spontaneously being who and what they are. The pivotal point in the poem is in the line 'What I do is me : for that I came'. Another great writer once said ‘the glory of God is most seen when man is fully alive’. 

The poem concludes with a reflection of 'Christ being made known in 10,000 places' through us.  If anything that’s an understatement. When we’re truly doing what we were created for Christ, as well as the real us, is most powerfully seen. Christ living in us.  Read and digest; and allow your imagination to stimulate your spiritual understanding.

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;     
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 What I do is me: for that I came.        

I say more: the just man justices;       
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;                   
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—  
Christ—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.

Gerard Manley Hopkins