Skelwith Force

The torn polygonal scraps of slate that line

Brathay’s bed above the force

Are dull when plucked, laid out and dry, but shine

Under the crag-stream’s course.

The whole broad dale at Elter Water’s strewn

With spring’s flood-leavings

And the upturned ash and birch-tree ruin

Tell of unseen heavings.

Out of the hill came the water, stripping the stone,

And lushing up the dale,

Around the ice-old mounds, the under-bone

Of the sleeper of a forgotten tale.

The soft and hard are side by side and felt

By every walker strolling down to see

The water turn to steam,

The clear become opaque,

The straight begin to bend,

The sure become unsure,

At Skelwith Force, where glaciations melt

And obstacles sudden slip free.

Seeing God’s Power in the Natural World

Do you remember the fantastic story of Solomon in the third chapter of the First Book of Kings?  God appeared to him at Gibeon while he slept and promised to give Solomon whatever he wished…

Solomon asked for wisdom, of course, and the First Book of Kings cedarlater describes some of the wisdom that he received in revelation from God, along with his fabled wealth:

And he spake three thousand proverbs and his songs were a thousand and five.  And he spake of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. [1 Kings 4 32-33]

It seems that part of Solomon’s wisdom, rather than simply his knowledge, was his interest in the world that God has created and his hunger to understand natural history.  The longing to see God’s power in the world is a driver for many beautiful writings, songs, paintings, studies and disciplines, and I feel it strongly.  I wonder whether this was the wisdom that led Gerard Manley Hopkins to seek the inscape of every created thing, to understand its unique character and the song it sings to God the Father?

And Solomon had time – made time – to study and write this natural history while ruling Israel at the height of its prosperity!  God can give us so much when we ask and when we are ready to receive what he gives us.