on Oxford and Gerard Manley Hopkins
I don’t often think of Oxford - though I spent a total of eight happy years (out of my first thirty), on and off, in and around it - but, when I do, it is often triggered by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Maybe it is because I find in Hopkins a fellow soul - both in the way faith was for him both life-giving and a confinement, and also in his longing and creative expressions of another, and transcendent, world, drawing on wisdom from the past and the ‘book of nature’ of present and in-breaking creativity. Oxford at its best can be like that - not for nothing did Matthew Arnold famously name it ‘that sweet city with its dreaming spires’ that needs not summer ‘for beauty’s heightening’...
I've always loved the first of May. Maybe it is the Celtic and European blood in me, or the feminine, or the longing for justice and the appreciation of those who forged the struggle, or the family birthdays which fall this month, or simply the rising sap of life and creation itself - all topped off by those champagne breakfasts I enjoyed on this day in Oxford - but I adore it. Of course it 'works' so much better in the northern hemisphere - 'oh to be in Paris now that Spring is here', as the old song has it? (and indeed I've been blessed to be in that beautiful city of liberty in May on a number of occasions). Yet it is such a gorgeous symbolic celebration of veriditas - greening - in so many senses of the word. It rings for me, sings to me, dances in me: with joy, with hope, with transformation...
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.