“The name is strange. It startles one at first. It is so bold, so new, so fearless. It does not attract, rather the reverse. But when one reads the poem this strangeness disappears. The meaning is understood.” J.F.X. O’Connor, S. J., A Study of Francis Thompson’s Hound of Heaven. p. 7. John Lane Company. 1912.
Once a week I meet with a group of friends who share how God is working in their life. I go to this meeting on Saturday morning because I believe in miracles, and that belief is always affirmed by what I hear and see. These are a group of people who were caught in addiction, who thought there was no way out, but somehow through the Grace of God with the help of community found a new life. I give up my Saturday morning to meet with some people I have seen for years and others whom I have never met. There are people from all walks of life, many I would not have known otherwise.
This Saturday, many people talk about the time they realized there might be a way out of their old life style. They call it a moment of clarity. Many were desperate. Some just knew this was not the path they would ever choose, but there they were. When they decided to come to the group for help, they were at first very uncomfortable. I can remember I came to this 12-step group around Thanksgiving. I can remember seeing posters about a Thanksgiving pot luck. I remember thinking I don’t like being here and goodness knows I don’t want to eat with these people as well! Today, almost twenty-eight years later, most of the people I go out to eat with I met through this community.!
Many talked about how they had no idea what gave them the courage to come to this meeting.
Story after story revealed there is something greater than all of us caring, loving us and calling us to become the person we were created to be. I also see this calling in people who come for spiritual direction. Something is calling us out of our God hole, the God, the Christ within us who deep down inside of our being knows about a God of love who deeply loves us.
In 1893 Francis Thompson wrote a 182-line poem about his experience with this phenomenon and called it The Hound of Heaven. I could not agree more.