Faulkner, eco aesthetics, supercomputers, lizards, solar energy, trade routes, North Korean prison camps, water colors. What could these subjects have to do with one another? For one evening this unnatural list came together as a group of graduate students gathered to share their research projects. In an academic world that is often separated by discrete colleges and disciplines, it was a treat to see these individuals talk about their work, and even make interdisciplinary connections.
I didn’t expect a student studying trade routes in and out of the ancient city of Antioch to make a connection with a student studying solar energy use today. However, she immediately connected his discussion of passive solar energy use with practices in the ancient world. Every presenter received similar comments relating their work to those in other fields.
However, this wasn’t merely an academic exercise. Within the sharing it was possible to sense something larger – God reflected in his marvelous tapestry of creation. This was a picture of God as Gerard Manley Hopkins describes in his poem As Kingfishers Catch Fire.As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. I say móre: the just man justices; Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is — Chríst — 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.
How often do we see the many faces of God before us? This research fair was a great opportunity to see that God is at work on, through, with, and connecting many planes – whether directly or indirectly. There is something about seeing God in all of our work – not just at church and or in Bible studies – that breathes life into this faith we profess. I can’t wait to see next semester’s unnatural list reveal even more.