Sunday, February 04, 2007

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. …

The great privilege of having small children is the opportunity to see the world, ever so briefly, through their quirky, innocent minds. "Bye bye, crayons," the Pie murmurs tenderly as she tucks them into their case; "Here you go, kitty!" she squeals as she offers the cat one of her books. For her, the whole world is alive, sentient, responsive to her every impulse of tenderness and generosity.

Bub, by contrast, approaches the world as a scientist. Objects present themselves to be counted and labeled; as his relational awareness develops, he has begun to delight in counter-factual statements, the inverse of his original pleasure in accuracy. "Does the Pie have four trains?" he asks mischievously, watching my face carefully for an answering twinkle. He knows she has three, clutched affectionately to her chest. The joke never grows old.

It’s easy enough to see the mind of God reflected in the Pie’s loving spirit: she looks at the world as I imagine the Creator must, recognizing in the essence of every object what Gerard Manley Hopkins referred to as "the dearest freshness deep down things." There is no distinction for her between animate and inanimate, natural and manufactured: even the most garish wax crayons borrow their colour from the same spectrum of light as the grass and flowers. Yet in Bub’s mind also I see the stamp of the One who numbers the hairs on every head, not just because He loves us, not just because He is omniscient, but rather for the sheer delight of counting – the thrill of big numbers that all of us sense in childhood before multiplication tables and quadratic equations drum it out of us.

And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs –
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

22 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

That's an interesting reflection of faith...and also makes me wonder about the boy-girl thing.

Mouse said...

To reveal just what a big nerd I am: multiplication tables and quadratic equations made the world of numbers even more wondrous to me, neat little packages that could bring order.

I guess Scooter comes by it all honestly.

Kyla said...

This was beautiful, B&P! It is amazing to see the character of God reflected in these little people, each in their own special way.

bubandpie said...

Julie - Yep. I thought of that too as I wrote this post: in these particular ways, my children are running very true to form, gender-stereotype-wise. Important to remember, though, that these are simply two individuals - as Mouse's comment demonstrates, women are quite capable of experiencing the joy of numbers.

Veronica Mitchell said...

You reminded me of a favorite Chesterton quote about another way God is like children:

"A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we."

That's from Orthodoxy. I think it's Chesterton at his best.

Angela said...

The grandeur of God reflected in everyday activities, children and nature, what a lovely post.

My children's questions about God, death and life, help me to better understand and vocalize my own beliefs. Children's questions, seemingly innocent and simple however, they are in fact deceptively intricate and complex, many times I just have to answer, "Mommy doesn't know,I still haven't figured it out." Keeps me very humble. P.S. I've finally started my own blog, please drop by.

crazymumma said...

That was beautiful. I often have to remind myself to stop and try and look at teh world thru their eyes, be it from one perspective or another.

Um, I am not a poetry person, so please tell me where the quote from the first poem in this post came from? I am thinking Blake? But like I said, I do not know.

Beck said...

Beautiful, beautiful post.

Joker The Lurcher said...

numbers make me go clammy - but i love colours! the numbers thing is my adhd side i fear!

CrankMama said...

You have captured perfectly the difference between children. The differences I observe in mine (light v. dark, heavy and love-assuming, versus suspicious) are so fascinating and troubling, it leaves me in a knot.

This post so lovingly describes just what I've been feeling over at the House of Many Girls.

bubandpie said...

Veronica - **gasp!** I've read that before, but I'd forgotten it. And now I recall how much I loved that quote when I first came upon it.

Crazymumma - The poem is actually called "God's Grandeur," by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I'm actually not much of a poetry person, either - I don't like reading it, but I enjoy teaching poetry, and I love the poems that I've taught enough that they've worked their way into my memory.

Mimi said...

I've seen more Pie-ish behaviours in the children in my life, but I have to confess to some Bub-ism in myself: shapes! perfectly regular squares and circles and triangles! How do they get so perfect?

What a nice post to think about!

Aliki2006 said...

I see the same gendered reflection of the world somewhat in my own kids. Although my son is very unlike a typical boy in his mannerisms, he doesn't have the approach to the world that my daughter, Tessa, has.

Interesting reflection...

Antique Mommy said...

I think I'd like to have lunch with you and Veronica and just listen to y'all say smart things. Really. Your posts are like candy that's good for you.

Mom101 said...

Outstanding.

jen said...

someone once told me a story about hearing their child talking to god, and about the child mentioning that it was getting harder and harder to hear god as he got older.

and something in what you wrote made me wonder about all of that again.

Sober Briquette said...

So beautiful. A good place to stop for now and go forward in our day. Thanks.

mamatulip said...

Beautiful post.

Becky said...

Lovely post... I know exactly what you mean. I think one of the best parts of being a parent is seeing the world through your child's eyes and watching them grow, learn and develop.

nomotherearth said...

I was thinking about the pure joy that children get out of simple things this weekend. I was running with the Boy in my arms and he loved it, and kept looking back at Mr Earth to see if he was smiling too.

Then I took him to the park and I spun him around in my arms while he laughed and shouted "Again!"

Children are simply beautiful, and so is your post.

Julie Pippert said...

B&P, you know...I understand it's anecdotal and individual. My mind is often much more male than female if you go by stereotypes. I find that interest is so often ephemeral when it comes to playing. P1 was never into any "boy toys" and prefers girls for playing. P2 is cool either way. Character is a little more fixed. And even with two girls, quite different.

Her Bad Mother said...

So beautifully said, lady. That YOU see (and can articulate) the grandeur in both the open-eyed wonder of Pie and the brilliant focus of Bub, is testament to everything that is wonderful about you, as a mother, and as a thinker, and believer.