Quote: George Herbert’s Elixir

Pastor and poet George Herbert

The third quotation comes from a book much older than Orthodoxy, but ties in nicely with last week’s quote from Chesterton:

The Elixir by George Herbert

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in any thing,
To do it as for thee:

Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into an action;
But still to make thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav’n espy.

All may of thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture (for thy sake)
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold:
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.

The Temple by George Herbert (Everyman’s Library 1995)

This poem by George Herbert suggests one way to seek the constant delight described by Chesterton in last week’s quotation. Remembering that all good earthly activities are a window through which we can see God is one way of recovering delight in the everyday tasks He gives us. God touches and owns the labor of producing a paper or sitting on a committee, if we remember to invite Him into it.

What helps you to remember that each daily academic task can be a way of seeking God’s Kingdom? What things tend to make it harder to see this? How do you see the specifics of your summer work as fitting into God’s Kingdom?

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Hannah Eagleson

Hannah Eagleson is a writer/editor on staff with InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). She edits ESN's collaboratively written devotional for academics. Hannah also crafts other community-building events and materials for ESN. She holds a PhD in English literature, and she’s working on a novel about a dragon who gave up fending off knights to become a tea importer in eighteenth-century England.

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