I had a few hours yesterday between the time my teaching job ended in one county and our younger son's playoff soccer game began in another. I hiked on one of New Jersey's other boardwalks: the one that run through a section of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Morris County, New Jersey. Something about being alone in the wild speaks to my soul, to my innermost self. I always emerge refreshed and restored, as if a broken part of me has healed.
Over the past few weeks I have followed a structured walking program to improve my fitness. So I headed down the boardwalk at a quick clip. I didn't see the tree swallows, the kingfishers and the other species that make the nearly 8,000-acre park their home. But I breathed in the air, so clean, so full of life, and I heard the woodpeckers and heard the geese calling to one another. I walked right past a chipmunk.
The refuge is located in the most densely populated state and was created back in 1960 after a battle with the Port Authority of New York, which wanted to turn the wetlands into an airport. Imagine.
As I walked, I prayed the rosary, using my fingers to count off the Hail Marys, out loud to myself with no other humans to hear me. How reassuring to think as I prayed and I walked about my fellow humans who find Beauty in the natural world.
|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;||5|
|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;||10|
|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|
-Gerard Manley Hopkins S.J.