I finally picked up a copy of Hymn of the Universe by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955). I’ve been poking around de Chardin for years, but never actually reading him. He was a French Jesuit, paleontologist, biologist, philosopher, mystic and poet. All the stuff I like!
Here’s a quote from the opening section titled “The Mass on the World,” written while de Chardin was on a scientific expedition in the Ordos desert in Inner Mongolia and celebrates Mass alone at dawn:
One by one, Lord, I see and I love all those whom you have given me to sustain and charm my life. One by one also I number all those who make up that other beloved family which has gradually surrounded me, its unity fashioned out of the most disparate elements, with affinities of the heart, of scientific research and of thought. And again one by one–more vaguely it is true, yet all-inclusively–I call before me the whole vast anonymous army of living humanity; those who surround me and support me though I do not know them; those who come, and those who go; above all, those who in office, laboratory, and factory, through their vision of truth or despite their error, truly believe in the progress of earthly reality and who today will take up again their impassioned pursuit of the light.
Annie Dillard also has a wonderful book called For the Time Being that plays with excerpts from de Chardin’s diaries and writings.