I couldn’t stay focused on the Scripture readings in my morning meditation today. Instead I sat transfixed gazing at our autumn hillside, ablaze in colors spotlighted by the morning sunlight. I know, however, that what I stared at, intoxicated by its beauty, epitomized for me all the message of that book: God’s forever love relationship with His creation, including you and me and the slow, plodding march of humanity on its way to even brighter glory. The Russians have a name for this season: Babye leto, literally “the old woman’s summer.” For one last time she will flaunt the beauty of her treasures before she fades away in a blaze of glory. She will show us for one last time the beauty of who she was, which we may not have appreciated. We who live in the Northern Hemisphere have the added bonus lesson of the seasons to remind us of the passing of time: something beautiful but also sad because we know that nothing here will last and must pass away. Each fall I ruminate on this truth which even a child perceives as was caught in a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins which I want to share with anyone who treasures the seasons.
Spring and Fall: To a Young Child
by Gerard Manley Hopkins 1
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
1 This poem is widely available on the web, ie., “Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ (1844-1889) – IgnatianSpirituality.com“
Sister Mary Catherine Shambour
Sister Mary E.Catherine Shambour currently serves as Vocation Director Minister for St. Scholastica Monastery. She had had many years of experience teaching on the secondary and college levels, and has frequently traveled to Russia and the Soviet Union as a student, teacher, tour leader, and volunteer church worker.