Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weird liturgical incident

There's a part of me that feels it's a little wrong to post this. But I was so fascinated by the whole affair I just can't resist.

I was at Mass the other night--late-night weeknight, on-campus, 20 or 30 people there, mostly students. The priest asked for someone to come forward and administer the cup, and a young woman did. She was clearly quite pious and reverent in her bearing and intent. But the result was comical.

This young woman--and I've never seen anything even approaching what she did--lifted the cup above the heads of every communicant. This would have been merely odd, except for the (relatively new) practice of bowing before you receive.

How this basically worked was this. As each (highly pious daily-mass-going) communicant approached the cup, s/he made a deep bow. Almost in time with the downward movement of the bow, the cup began to rise. Each communicant came up expecting to see the cup at the normal level (about chest level), the level it had been when they started bowing. But it was at least at face-level, and, as they came up, the cup minister gave it one last little lift, as if she needed to see them see that this cup was above them. (It reminded me a bit of how my dog looks when I hold a treat above her nose.) Everyone of them was a little surprised, but followed the cup.

The whole movement, repeated so many times, reminded me of little windup figures, stuck making the same movements over and over again.

Just a strange thing that made me laugh.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A poem for fall

Those of you who also follow me on Facebook know that I'm teaching in an interdisciplinary course this semester, which means that I'm reading such great works of literature as Gilgamesh and The Odyssey. Something about the questions of mortality in those texts and the seasonal shift to fall has had me thinking about the poem below. And since the poem is by Gerard Manley Hopkins, who inspired the title of this blog, it seemed appropriate to share it here.

Spring and Fall:

to a Young Child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.