Anne, Mary, and I drove into Chelmsford today to take a walk around the old Lime Quarry. It’s an easy walk, and the old quarry sites and kilns are interesting. The limestone was first mined and burned in the early 1700s, and the quarry evidently stayed in operation until the 1830s (lime was used to make plaster for the interior walls and ceilings of homes). The land has been conserved since the early 60s, and is now heavily wooded. Although you can hear the traffic from I-495, it’s not too loud, and the trees do a lot to muffle it. It’s easy to let oneself go and just feel the woods.

We’re now in the the dog-days of summer, and the lushness of the New England countryside is in its full glory. I’m now sitting looking at Anne’s garden and woods behind our home with our walk still in my mind. I find myself recalling one of my favorite poems from one of my favorite poets: “Pied Beauty,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Glory be to God for dappled things–
For rose-moles all in stipple on trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings
Landscape plotted and pieced–fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He Fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise Him.

The entire poem leaves me with feelings of upwelling joy at the marvelous Creation in which we live. But it’s the penultimate line that always catches me up: “He Fathers-forth whose beauty is past change.” The fullness of summer indeed feels like the (natural) world is in movement. Plants reaching for the sun, spreading their leaves wide and showing off their flowers. Insects buzzing all around, flying from flower to flower, sitting in the sun and shade, just being alive. Birds are everywhere, especially the young ones still getting used to the world, their songs filling the trees and fields. There’s an exuberance to the world that, if we only slow down long enough to feel it, pulls us along with it.

God is not a distant, stern figure just waiting for the chance to judge the world. God is Joy; the ecstatic joy that is at the root of all Creation. And God is Love; the love that permeates all that is Fathered- and Mothered-forth. And we are no less a part it than the plants, the insects, the birds.

Praise Him; Praise Her.