“… in thy sight
Storm flakes were scroll-leaved flowers, lily showers – sweet heaven was
astrew in them.”
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins, “The Wreck of the Deutschland”
As a ferocious storm advances toward us this morning, I’ve been reading this poem about another storm, and feeling inspired by the spirit of confidence and courage that runs through it. The poet portrays a Franciscan nun who was aboard a ship that sank in a storm as being pugnaciously stubborn in facing down the fury of the storm. For her and her faith, the snowflakes swirling around the ship were “scroll-leaved flowers” and the driving rain was like “lily showers”. There’s a sense, in the poem, of trust and assurance that the force of faith in a higher power can easily disarm the fearsomeness of nature’s storms. As I sit beside the window typing and taking in the sight of trees outside spectacularly swaying in the winds, I’m reassured by the quiet but equally spectacular strength of the thoughts arising inside me -- thoughts that settle me and cause me to remember that powers like acceptance and confidence and composure can easily cancel the sense of dread brought on by a storm. There’s a beauty, I notice, in the bending down of the long limbs of the trees and the furious rush of leaves in the street and certainly in the faces of some children chasing each other round and round among swirling leaves in our neighbor’s lawn. They know no fears about the storm, only the excitement of it all, the greatness of getting a day off from school, the sheer goodness of going around in circles in storm-blown leaves. For them, the coming storm is a “sweet heaven” of thrills, and so will it be, I hope, for me.