The God who numbers the hair on our heads is interested in the details. Beautiful objects have care put into them. The artist who undertakes to learn from Michelangelo may spend days just studying the hands of the Pieta'. Equally in life, God as a craftsman, is concerned with the most minute moments of our lives because, like great works of art, they have beauty in their details. Engaging craft means paying attention to the way something is constructed; it means noticing the skillful form it takes. When we spend time enjoying the craft of fiction and poetry, we are mirroring a bit of God's own love of particulars. Andrew Rumsey, following Gerard Manly Hopkins, the nineteenth-century Welsh poet and Jesuit, argues that God has designed human beings to be attentive to creation’s details. When this watchfulness for particulars results in poetry, the poem can be expected to have a resonance with the reader’s experience because we as readers are also part of the details (51-61). We are, if you will, creatures embedded in the particulars.

Hopkins, in his address to his order "The Principle of Foundation," stressed the purpose and role of creation by focusing on three key concepts: "He [God] meant the world to give him praise, reverence, and service; to give him glory. [. . .] With praise, reverence, and service it should shew him his own glory" (228-229). These three words are important to Hopkins because they show how we are to interact with God's expression of himself in the world:

  • Praise, according to Hopkins, is an act of the mind by which we understand the importance of what we apprehend. We recognize God's glory for what it is.
  • Reverence is an act of intuition and emotion, but more important, it is a certain stance toward the world. We pay close and long attention to the world in order to see what God has done there.
  • Service implies an act of the will: we are called to respond according to what we have seen--to teach others, to act differently, or to create works of art that embody the inscape of God's world.

According to Hopkins, every object has an essence that can be perceived; this essence points to God's design of it and the unified design of the creation. (Hopkins calls this inscape.) God reveals the inscape of an object not only so that it may praise him, but also so that it may be embodied in works of art, which are also acts of praise to God. In "As Kingfishers Catch Fire, "Hopkins touches on this theme:

                     [. .. .] each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
          Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
         Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came. (3-8)

Hopkins can, thus, speak of Christ revealing himself to God the Father through the acts of the world, including human beings:

Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is--
  Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
  To the Father through the features of men's faces. (12-14)

The writer Annie Dillard aptly named this process "stalking" the divine (chapter 11 passim). Both Hopkins and Dillard understand that poetry’s attentiveness to the world about us is a theological attitude and calling.

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"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding