We at the McGrath Institute for Church Life want to observe and celebrate Thanksgiving in a special way. On our radio show and podcast, Church Life Today, we shared five passages about the Eucharist and thanksgiving, with reflections to guide us into rediscovering how an exchange of thanksgiving occurs in the Sacrament of Sacraments. We know, of course, that the holiday Thanksgiving is not itself about the Eucharist. But this civic holiday is probably the closest in character to our religious holidays, and all the more because it is a feast dedicated to giving thanks. For those who revere and adore the Eucharist, we know that being transformed by that particular and unique “thanksgiving” should shape and transform our entire lives.
I first encountered “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” in a homily. While I don’t fully remember the homily itself, this poem has stayed with me ever since—enough that I even bought a book of Hopkins’ poems. I keep coming back to it because it helps me to recall and envision the grace-filled life that God desires for me.
A few days after last year’s Feast of the Visitation, I started working on this poem. I had recently come across a villanelle (a form of poetry that’s a bit like a puzzle, definitely structured but not too strict) and wanted to try writing one myself. I looked back at it today and was surprised how much I liked it—enough to share it, I guess.
During my daughter’s early weeks of life, I started to read her poetry as I fed her. I’d like to say it was because I knew she found the sound of my voice soothing, or because I hoped to instill in her a love of literature from an early age or because I believe that vocabulary formation begins in these first, tender weeks. These things may all be true, but that’s not why I fill her sweet little ears with metered verse. No, I read her poetry to pass the time.