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Business professor concludes Spirituality Monday

| Monday, April 28, 2014

Professor of business and economics Jerry McElroy ended Saint Mary’s semester-long Spirituality Monday series with a discussion on the sacramentality of nature.

“Poetry is really a sense language, what did you see, what did you hear, feel and taste, and so sacramentality means that through the window of the senses, we somehow taste and find God,” McElroy said. “I just saw this article called ‘Poetry is the Best Theology,’ and it says, ‘It imagines the unimaginable. It describes the undefinable. It’s theology leaping out of the file cabinet and into the heart. It’s the word of the word that stirs our souls.’”

McElroy invited junior Rebecca Walker to read an opening poem by Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, an English poet and Jesuit priest of the 19th century. McElroy then read one of his own poems, the first he ever wrote and sent in for publication, “Spring Fine.” 

“[My wife] Birdie and I lived for many years in the tropics, and the first year we came to South Bend, the winter was like this one — the winter would never end,” McElroy said. “No one knew when spring would come. So this is a poem about when spring really started.”

“In the year of the late snowmelt, no one knew when spring came, until the one day warble song rolled suddenly through the fence row and broke the chill in winter’s wake, and unexpectedly, the wild plum tree bloomed so loudly against its skin that travelers slowed just a nod. At last the cold was past, and earth would green and green again,” McElroy said, reciting his poem.   

McElroy said his next poem, “Spring Delights,” drew heavily upon the senses with assistance from alliteration and irony.

“As far as I know, the angels can’t smell the lavender, or smell the creek ice cracks. That’s a privilege we have,” McElroy said.  

One particular poem described the odyssey of the spawning of salmon, drawing a parallel to the Holy Spirit and the Paschal Mystery, McElroy said. Another poem painted a peaceful image of an island, a sacred scene right before the break of dawn.

McElroy said though he received his doctorate in economics, his interest in nature and poetry began early in his life. 

“I spent a lot of time observing nature,” he said. “When I was a kid on my grandad’s farm, I began to sing, so I know when to start, stop the lines.” 

Having already published four books, McElroy said he will release his fifth book this coming August through Finishing Line Press.

“The best part is the poetry itself,” McElroy said. “If you really absorb yourself in the poetry, you’re going to get in contact with the divine eventually, because the nature is so incredible.”

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