The Grandeur of God

Earlier this week I read a Facebook post about a Catholic priest justifying excluding women from the priesthood by saying we see the “grandeur of God” in the male priest. This has been a niggling, itching irritation in my mind since then.

I just left the grocery store. I am not young, but I am tall and straight-backed, and I move easily. In the store I watched a classic “little old lady” roll her shopping cart slowly down the long aisle. She had a very wrinkled face, even the backs of her hands were wrinkled, her hair was wispy, she shuffled, bent-backed, down the aisle, slowly reaching for the canned goods she wanted. She looked up, caught my eye, and smiled. Now there, I thought, is a glimpse of the grandeur of God.

And then, inevitably, I thought of the opening lines of William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

And then Gerard Manley Hopkin’s 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.

And I gave thanks “to whatever gods may be” not for my “unconquerable soul” but for opening my eyes to the divinity shining forth in a grocery store aisle.

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