'Christ plays in ten thousand places'
I came across this intriguing phrase as the title of a book by Eugene Peterson. It was first scribed by the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) who was a Christian with a keen aesthetic taste and an acute awareness of the grandeur of God in all creation.
There is a wonderful and insightful cameo of his life in Gaius Davies' book Genius Grief and Grace
Davies writes, 'the most lasting impression that Hopkins leaves for us is his concern that grace should be an expression of a 'better beauty'. This is brought out in two ways. He suggest firstly that in giving up the enjoyment of natural beauty we may find something even more fulfilling; and secondly, that grace when lived out in daily life makes all our 'goings graces'.
In Hopkins poem As kingfishers catch fire...
I say more: the just man justices
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces
Acts in God's eyes what in God's eyes 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 face
Does Hopkins go too far in this? He states here a truth not often so daringly expressed, for he would certainly agree that the word was made flesh once and for all in Christ. Yet he says grace should make us behave graciously, as being forgiven should make us more forgiving, as being justified should make us more just in our dealings. His most daring insight was to see grace in the lives of men and women as if they themselves expressed the new life of Christ in which the Father delights.'