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The hairs of our heads are numbered

The hairs of our heads are numbered

God knows infinite things, all things, and heeds them all in particular. We cannot “do two things at once,” that is cannot give our full heed and attention to two things at once. God heeds all things at once. He takes more interest in a merchant’s business than the merchant, in a vessel’s steering than the pilot, in a lover’s sweetheart than the lover, in a sick man’s pain than the sufferer, in our salvation than we ourselves. The hairs of our heads are numbered before him. ~Gerard Manley Hopkins, Notes for a Sermon on October 25, 1880 in The Major Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 278-279.

As they say, God’s eye is on the sparrow. Those of us who fancy ourselves sophisticated might think such small stuff is beneath God’s notice. God certainly has the big picture in view, and is the master of the “long game.” But God is able to see both the forest and the trees—indeed, every branch, root, and leaf in the smallest detail. God is the deepest reality of each and all. In love, God made us all, by that incredibly subtle power of Wisdom, who pervades all things yet transcends them all. When we think about providence, we may be tempted to conceive of God’s will as something over against us, rather than that which establishes us in our very own being, from whom we depart only when we choose a duplicitous cleavage from our own inmost selves. Truly, God is closer to us than we are, more fully aware and attentive to our needs and heart’s true longings. God is ceaselessly at work, seeking our good and pouring out abundant blessings for each of us—each one in particular as a seamless part of an integral whole, a single community of creation. Thus, God takes more interest “in our salvation than we ourselves.”

The Rev. Bill Carroll serves as rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Athens, Ohio. His parish blog is at here.


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