The Spiritual Curl

piglets-oink-oinkWe can get stuck, spiritually, in a pretty deep muck: down on ourselves, focused on the faults of others, turned ungraciously inward. Generally, God doesn’t want us mired down, rather God wants us shining with the glory of creation. Shining from within of God’s glory, we can draw others towards the source of light and life. Radiant from within we more easily act as ambassadors for the King of Glory, the Son of Man. Since I am about to begin a retreat this often repeated dynamic in my relationship with God has been on my mind, and I think that the poet Galway Kinnell’s “Saint Francis and the Sow” serves as a nice reminder of the need for returning to God in the intimacy of prayer and retreat. Here’s the whole poem:

Saint Francis and the Sow

by Galway Kinnell

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
© Jeffrey C. Johnson and Whosoever Desires, 2009. (except for the poem)
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3 Responses to The Spiritual Curl

  1. Reminds me of how St. Ignatius calls Satan “Lucifer, mortal enemy of our human nature.”

    This is in contrast to St. Ignatius’ call to “look how God dwells in creatures… and so in me, giving me being, animating me, giving me sensation and making me to understand; likewise making a temple of me, being created to the likeness and image of His Divine Majesty;” [from the Contemplatio, Second Point]

    When we understand our nature as a gift from God, we are more readily able to offer this gift back to God in total self abandonment. And in that is the ability to go out of any self-possessiveness, willfulness or self-centeredness and begin to more fully benefit from spiritual things.

  2. charlene b. says:

    Thank you for that. I believe this new blog will be a real blessing for many. It already has been for me.

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