Simmering with God in Green

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlicting, OP
Blog by Sr. Janet Schlicting, OP

“Green is the season after Pentecost….” Jessica Powers, a Carmelite poet, starts her reflection on the Spirit’s work by inviting us into a summer of green. It is Ordinary time again, with the wearing of green vestments and the world of the Northern Hemisphere is dense and dancing with green. But for the Christian, is time ever Ordinary? We who just have celebrated the Great Mysteries know a world woven through and through with the grace of creation and redemption, and God’s spirit alive in the world. Powers marvels, “O leaves of love! O chlorophyll of grace!”

Like Powers, Gerard Manley Hopkins draws us into new sight, leading us to imagine with God’s eyes the glory surrounding us, inviting us to put on our gospel-tinted lenses. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” He invokes our sacramental Imagination, insisting that everything—all of Creation– is capable of holding and announcing the Divine presence. But Hopkins does not avert his gaze from a darker scene, the destruction caused by humankind’s exploitation of earth’s treasures, the earth “seared with trade, smeared, bleared with toil….”

And through what sort of lens do we view humanity? In a preaching seminar at Aquinas Institute, we had a true interdenominational mix. One day we discussed our Christian anthropology—how we viewed humanity in relation to God. But first, without discussion, we put our answers on the board. The revelation! Every one of our Protestant sisters and brothers wrote down some equivalent of “wretched,” “nothing,” “puny worm.” And all the Catholics wrote “Imago Dei!”

What the “puny worm” bunch had in common was a view of humanity enslaved to sin, and the huge chasm between us and the Holiness of God. Of ourselves, we can achieve nothing, merit nothing. Fallen creation is “smeared and bleared,” blind to God’s revelation and lost in darkness. Only by the Cross of Jesus can the chasm be bridged. The paradigm might be called “distance.”

The “Imago Dei” view underscores our likeness to God, and our capacity for seeing creation and human life pointing to God’s presence. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection confirms God’s desire for us and our salvation.  God wants to be known.  This paradigm could be called “nearness.”

This summer may be a call to recognize and celebrate our own vision of a world redeemed, our particular experience of God abiding and acting in this time so shattered by  chaos and terror.  God chooses us, names us Mercy and Hope, and insists that however weak our witness of Gospel living and however lacking our power of preaching, grace yet abounds. Spread the Green Season. “O leaves of love! O chlorophyll of grace!”

Now Hopkins must conclude his poem, in order not to leave us with a world of drudgery and darkness, but alive in a world enlightened by truth and renewed in love, where “there lives the dearest freshness deep-down things/  .…For the Holy Ghost over the bent/ world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”

When we put on our gospel-tinted lenses, we see that the Ordinary is always shimmering with the Extraordinary and our Everydayness hiccups with the surprise of eternity. And green is the season.

“Green is the Season” from “The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers” and “God’s Grandeur” from “The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins.”

Posted in Weekly Word

6 responses to “Simmering with God in Green

  1. Dear Jan,
    Your title drew me in. Yes, Tennessee where I live is shimmering in green! So refreshing to read your beautiful and artful piece. Our imago Dei consciousness is such a gift, one we want to share. Well done, my former teacher of liturgy! Cathy Galaskiewicz

    1. Actually, dear sisters,
      My original title–I think!– was neither Shimmering or Simmering! It was Summering! But Felix Culpa–it caught your eye and spoke to you.
      Thanks-Jan

  2. Thank you, Jan! What refreshing and uplifting thoughts for our “Green Season”! Love the poetry citations… and especially your concluding thought: “Everydayness hiccups with the surprise of eternity.” I love it!

    Peace,
    Pat

  3. Your reflection caught my eye as we’re experiencing another simmering summer, though seems hotter than others. So of course added reason to lift ones voice to our Creator for a big dose of chlorophyll of grace to keep our planet green and cool!

  4. Thank you, Janet for such an uplifting reflection on our true identity. Blessings on your preaching!

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