Earth Day’s 50th anniversary seems the perfect time to share this poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins. I love that this poem celebrates Earth, charged as it is with the grandeur of God. But this poem also laments what we have done to Earth as have trod, trod, and trod, and disconnected ourselves from its very soil. But what I love most about Hopkins’ poem, other than its simple artistic beauty, is that it concludes in a hopeful way, with that wonderful image of the Holy Ghost over the bent Word. So, join me in this special devotion for Earth Day.

Opening Psalm: Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, 
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas, 
and established it on the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? 
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, 
who do not lift up their souls to what is false, 
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord, 
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him, 
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
Lift up your heads, O gates! 
and be lifted up, O ancient doors! 
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory? 
The Lord, strong and mighty, 
the Lord, mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates! 
and be lifted up, O ancient doors! 
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? 
The Lord of hosts, 
he is the King of glory. Selah

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:22-23

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Silence for reflection and prayer.

Devotional Poem: “God’s Grandeur” by Gerald Manley Hopkins

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. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
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.

Closing Prayer

The earth is yours, O Lord, and all that is in it. And yet, for reasons known only to you, you have entrusted us with this beautiful creation. We celebrate the beauty of your creation today and give thanks to you for its gift. But we also acknowledge today how we have trod and trod upon your gift, seared and smeared it, and damaged it almost beyond repair. Forgive us, Lord, and help us to take better care of your creation, groaning as it is, and as it awaits with us your redemption. Continue to brood over the world, Holy Ghost, and over us, with warm breast and bright wings. Amen

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