He who veins violets

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent, Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment, Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more) …

I suppose we often ask why it is so difficult to create a ‘normal’ society in Zimbabwe.  People wait patiently for years, longing for the simple things of life; shelter, food, work to enable them to send their children to school, stable money and power to light their homes and help them cook. Why is it so hard to achieve such things? Since the country has all the means of providing them the answer has to be that we don’t want to make them accessible to all but the few.

I say ‘we’ in the broad sense of our society as a whole.  There are many individuals and groups who want these basic things but our country does not want them. If it did we would have them. A country is like an individual; courageous, generous, compassionate at times and at other times selfish, inward looking and careless about others. We like to believe the best about ourselves and rightly so but the best does not come without a struggle.

How we would love to have leaders who were generous, self-sacrificing and focused on the good of the country and the continent.  Then we could all sit back and leave it to them and enjoy our life.  But we do not have that situation and we are not likely to have it until we want it.  By wanting it I mean that real commitment to a way of life throughout society which shows courage, integrity and compassion. If we were committed to these things the country would soon change.

I believe it is changing – slowly.  We will get there.  I came across the poem I quote above in which Gerard Manley Hopkins speaks of a Jesuit brother who was a ‘doorkeeper’ – receptionist – in a college in Spain for over forty years, four hundred years ago.  All he did was answer the door.  But the life he built around that simple daily activity – welcoming people, counselling students, helping the poor and just being available to everybody – meant that slowly he himself became a great man and the time came when he was canonised by the Catholic Church.

Hopkins talks of God’s work of hewing mountains and continents but also of ‘veining violets’! These tiny flowers have the most beautiful colour and the image is of the slow evolution of nature over time that eventually produces the masterpiece: a simple purple flower.   God is working in us and in our society, pouring life into its veins, our veins, and the time will come when we will see the beauty of it.  The difference is the violet didn’t have to do anything to achieve its perfection.  But we do.

30 June 2019               Sunday 13 C

I Kings 19:18-21          Galatians 5:1, 13-18                Luke 9: 51-62

Post published in: Faith
  1. Andy Kadir-Buxton

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