Thought for the day 18th May 2020


Yesterday’s early evening walk on the Forest was an eye-opener. No crowds – all at the beach, perhaps, in these more relaxed days? – hardly anyone around; and the natural world in glorious, full display. For this walk I did manage to remember my binoculars, and how glad I was to have done so! In his poem ‘The Windhover’, G M Hopkins describes how one morning he ‘caught’ a hovering falcon. I think he means both ‘caught sight of’ and also ‘caught’ as one might catch a vision, and retain it vividly in mind and imagination. Well, last evening I ‘caught’ a skylark in full song, hovering high over the hillside; it seemed really (as Keats wrote of the nightingale) to be ‘pouring forth its soul’ in song: such joy, such freedom, such beauty!


And then I ‘caught’ for the first time what turned out (on later consulting my bird book) to be a stonechat, perching on top of a gorse bush twenty or so yards away. Without binoculars, it would have remained a blur. But I was able to see it with full clarity. What a gift aided sight is; what a gift the world of nature! Hopkins concludes his poem ‘Pied Beauty’ with this line: ‘He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:/ Praise him.’ That’s how I feel at these moments: a sense of exaltation, praise, gratitude. It’s almost like being in church…


Fr John

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