“As Kingfishers Catch Fire” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, 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 Whát I dó is me: for that I came.


I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — 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.

I often think of Lent as a season of substitution. I am giving up something that is a part of me, to get God. I am removing entertainment, stimulants, or stress removers to allow God to provide adventure, energy, and rest. With this attitude I embrace lent with stoicism, sobriety, and expectancy. And as long as I consider Lent in this manner, I think I am bound to meet disappointment; I will inevitably fixate on whatever I am losing until I try to take it back.

The reality is, I think, that we are giving up things–things that we desire–to realize what we have already been given, and to realize that God is the giver. In the desert, Satan offered Jesus food, identity, purpose, and authority over the earth. Satan, however, did not even have the power to provide those things in a way that was true and eternal, because Jesus already HAD those things. God had already given all of these things to him. Lent, then, is to embrace the identity you’ve been given, to look at your most core, raw, and natural self, and to realize that your being is enough. Your being is the kindling with which God will create a mighty, roaring flame. Christ becomes exceedingly more beautiful when your nature becomes apart of his will.

So, come Easter day, emerge from your Lenten season as a kingfisher catches fire.

About Daniel Buckley

I am a graduate student studying english education in the deep south, and I am endlessly in love with Jesus, Flannery O' Connor, and other social pariahs.

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