He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute. ~Augustine
It turns the mind inside out~ created inside His creation, cradled within an earthly embrace by way of heaven, bathed while cleansing the bather filled from emptying breast to become food for the hungry.
In the beginning the Word breathed and articulated life with such eloquence, knowing its utterance must come from human lips and tongue and throat
whether as infant’s cry, toddler’s chuckle, child’s whisper, adult’s prayer of praise, the aged’s last sigh.
We, who are ineloquent aside from the Word, are speechless, listening.
These last few days of winter are a reawakening of nature’s rebirthing rhythms, with increased activity of all the wild creatures and birds around us, and most importantly, God’s renewal of our weary wintery hearts.
Some late winter and early spring mornings still are pitch black with blustering winds and rain, looking and feeling like the bleakest of December mornings about to plunge into the death spiral of winter all over again.
No self-respecting God would birth Himself into a dawn as dark as night.
But this God would.
He labors in our bleakest of hearts for good reason. We are unformed and unready to meet Him in the light, clinging as we do to our dark ways and thoughts. Though we soon celebrate the rebirth of springtime, it is just so much talk until we accept the change of being transformed ourselves.
Though soon the birds will be singing their hearts out and the frogs chorusing in the warming ponds, we, His people, are silenced as He prepares us and prepares Himself for birth within us. The labor pains are His, not ours; we become awed witnesses to His first and last breath when He makes all things, including us, new again.
The world and its creatures, including us, is reborn — even where dark reigned before, even where it is bleakest, especially inside our healing wintery hearts.
What word informs the world, and moves the worm along in his blind tunnel?
What secret purple wisdom tells the iris edges to unfold in frills? What juiced and emerald thrill
urges the sap until the bud resolves its tight riddle? What irresistible command
unfurls this cloud above this greening hill, or one more wave — its spreading foam and foil —
across the flats of sand? What minor thrust of energy issues up from humus in a froth
of ferns? Delicate as a laser, it filigrees the snow, the stars. Listen close — What silver sound
thaws winter into spring? Speaks clamor into singing? Gives love for loneliness? It is this
un-terrestrial pulse, deep as heaven, that folds you in its tingling embrace, gongs in your echo heart. ~Luci Shaw “What Secret Purple Wisdom” from The Green Earth: Poems of Creation ~
The road that took Him from wooden manger to wooden cross is one we walk in joy and terror through His Word.
He is given to us; He gives Himself to bring joy to our miserable and dark existence;
He dies for us; He rises to give us eternal hope of salvation; He calls us by name and we recognize Him.
This mystery is too much for too many unwilling to accept that such sacrifice is possible. His sacrifice and many parts of His body continue to be oppressed and persecuted every day. We are blind-hearted to the possibility that this Spirit that cannot be measured, touched, weighed or tracked can stir and overwhelm darkness. We prefer the safety of remaining tight in the bud, hid in the little room of our hearts rather than risk the joy and terror of full blossom and fruitfulness.
Lord, give us grace in our blindness, having given us Yourself. Prepare us for embracing your mystery.
Prepare us for joy. Prepare us to bloom.
What is the crying at Jordan? Who hears, O God, the prophecy? Dark is the season, dark our hearts and shut to mystery.
Who then shall stir in this darkness prepare for joy in the winter night? Mortal in darkness we lie down, blind-hearted, seeing no light.
Lord, give us grace to awake us, to see the branch that begins to bloom; in great humility is hid all heaven in a little room.
Now comes the day of salvation, in joy and terror the Word is born! God gives himself into our lives; Oh, let salvation dawn! ~Carol Christopher Drake
Man was added to Him, God not lost to Him; He emptied Himself not by losing what He was, but by taking to Him what He was not. ~Augustine
Look upon the baby Jesus. Divinity may terrify us. Inexpressible majesty will crush us. That is why Christ took on our humanity… that he should not terrify us but rather that with love and favor he should console and confirm.” ~Martin Luther
He was pushed out to take his first breath on earth, birth-bloodied, then cradled and held in human arms.
Three decades later, He was pulled down following His last breath, death-bloodied, cradled and held in human arms.
The symmetry of His birth and death mirrors the symmetry of our lives, a consolation that He belongs to us as much as we belong to Him.
The blood shed at birth is his mother’s alone. The blood lost at death is God’s alone, pumping through broken human heart and arteries, soaking the wretched ground below.
He empties wholly because He is fully human; He returns risen and whole because He is fully God.
We, who would be terrified, are deeply loved: cradled, consoled and comforted by such inexpressible divinity emptied into our humanity.
Be a womb. Be a dwelling for God. Be surprised. ~Loretta Ross-Gotta
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. ~C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity
Whenever there is the temptation to hunker down in retreat from the rest of the world, and God Himself, content with the status quo and reluctant to stretch beyond clear boundaries I’ve carefully constructed for my one weary life~
I am surprised.
Whether bunker or cottage or palace, when I seek safety or simplicity, it is not enough. I am not a dwelling for God until His remodel project is finished~
He puts down His chisel, hammer and saw, sees what He has salvaged from the junk heap, looks me over and declares it good.
When, in the cavern darkness, the child first opened his mouth (even before his eyes widened to see the supple world his lungs had breathed into being), could he have known that breathing trumps seeing? Did he love the way air sighs as it brushes in and out through flesh to sustain the tiny heart’s iambic beating, tramping the crossroads of the brain like donkey tracks, the blood dazzling and invisible, the corpuscles skittering to the earlobes and toenails? Did he have any idea it would take all his breath to speak in stories that would change the world? ~Luci Shaw “Breath”
Breath created the world by forming the Words that tell the stories that change everything and us.
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother; Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room, Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb. ~John Donne “Annunciation”
Four years ago, as I headed out to the barn underneath the pink glow of a glorious Sunday morning sunrise, there was something unusual forming in the horizon above the foothills. It began as a solid gray streak across the rosy clouds, almost shadow-like, but then in a matter of a few minutes, at its origin, it became a vortex of brilliance surrounded by clear skies. It was, indeed, womb-like, as if something was imminently to be delivered from the heavens. Instead, it dissipated as quickly as it arose.
No trumpets sounding, not today…
I found out later this was most likely a phenomenon called a “fallstreak hole” and photos were published from across the region, but none seemed to quite capture this perspective from our farm.
Still, it didn’t make me think of rapture. It looked to me like John Donne’s “immensity cloistered” womb, His Light illuminating the internal darkness of this world, this Incarnation born of woman but heaven-sent.
He is no longer “shutst in little room” but continues to transform the wombs of our hearts.