In Ten Thousand Places

By Delaney Young



I’m still that English major, even after six months of post-grad life. I still get excited about chiastic structure and metonymy, and when we talked about the theology of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories in our Old Testament seminar a few weeks ago, my heart rate shot up. The zeal with which I read my daily emails from The Poetry Foundation is pretty compelling corroborating evidence as well, but I digress…

This poem that I love showed up in my inbox a few days ago—Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “As Kingfishers Catch Fire.” It’s Hopkins in all his brilliance, melodic in rhythm and gorgeous in prose. The poem begins by talking about how each created thing, from fish and insects to stones and bells, “does one thing and the same.” It’s actually incredibly similar to Psalm 19. Hopkins’ point is that all of creation does what it was made by God to do. Fish were created to swim, and so they do; bells are made to ring, and so they do.

And then he says that the human being “acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—Christ—for Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his to the Father through the features of men’s faces.” Those lines will never not dazzle me. The imago dei that is embedded in and wrapped around each one of us shows up in our facial features, our personalities, our ideas and our art; we show Christ to the world in ten thousand different lovely ways, and that diversity of expressions glorifies God!

Hopkins’ thesis that human beings were created to reflect and embody the Creator in ten thousand different ways, to diversely flesh out the loveliness of Christ in our relationships with friends and neighbors and colleagues, is a kind of marriage of two ideas that the Fellows have talked about a lot this semester: identity and vocation. The truth that we are each made in the image of God means we have dignity, confidence, purpose, power, freedom, and hope. I could write pages and pages about the imago dei in connection to each one of those words, but sufficed to say: this semester has been a reminder of how profound it is that the perfect God, who isLove, has created every single human being to bear his resemblance.

And of course, that identity then has implications for our work. I’ve often heard pastors at McLean Presbyterian say, “The grace of God’s Gospel frees us to get to work,” and I’ve adopted that as a kind of vocational slogan in my own life. Because of the dignity and beloved-ness that God gives me, I am free to work hard at anything and everything I do to the glory of God. All semester, the Fellows have been reading about and discussing vocation (both conceptually and practically), as well as working our way through several personality, ability, and motivation assessments. In the wake of all of this intense self-work, I have found myself hyper-aware of the intentionality and kindness of God, not only in the way God has made me but also in the way God has made each one of the incredible humans in this Fellows class.

I see the loveliness of Christ everywhere, in the features of my friend’s faces and in the ten thousand ways in which this community shows God’s love to one another everyday. To see Fellows serve in children’s ministry at McLean each Sunday, or make the hour-long commute to work on the Hill Tuesday-Thursday, or stand on their chair at RoundTable and affirm each other (ask John Kyle…)—this is to see the face of God, “for Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his to the Father through the features of men’s faces.”




Pictures from the Week













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Benefits of The Fellows Initiative


You probably already know that Capital Fellows is one of 30 fellows programs in The Fellows Initiative network. But, did you know that the sponsors of TFI offer great benefits to Capital Fellows alumni? For example, Reformed Theological Seminary offers a 33% tuition discount for 5 years. You can learn more about TFI's sponsors by clicking here.


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