20 Contemplations #13: Incarnate

Edward Knippers, "Annunciation", theology forum.wordpress.com
Edward Knippers, “Annunciation”, theology forum.wordpress.com

It could be that the wildest, strangest things in the Bible were the places where it touched earth.
(Marilynne Robinson, Lila)

Our minds jump too easily: from cradle
to grave – a Cross upon a hill. And yes,
this is where it tends. Yet first the stable
is where God, first time in wounded ages,
touches directly the things of earth.
Then He will walk, as He will tell others:
Rise and walk. He will learn life’s shape, the girth,
as we all learn, by taste and touch and years.
Lullabies do no justice to this. It
fragments and fractures. Yet it also meets
where deepest, frailest longings fail to fit
the structure of existence, gives hands and feet
to all that we have heard yet have not seen,
and binds together every break that’s been.

20 Contemplations #11: Communion

image
Anselm Kiefer, "Herzeleider"

…Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
(Luke 2:19)

I hold You; I bore You. Yet You cannot
be held by me. The story told from first
honours me but exalts You more: a dot
at the start, impossibly small, yet burst-
ing with life. How could this all be? I did
not make it so. I held You, I hold You,
yet Glory made You. I grew You inside,
yet You grew me. Your breath shows it is true:
so dependent, so in need of me.
Can I hold my saviour so? Can I birth
the world’s one hope, like fruit from ungrown tree?
Can my maker grow from this virgin earth?
All things out of nothing He grows, and so
my nothing He has given mother-glow.

Damascus Road Prayers: Advent 4

image

…without the First-born no-one is able
to approach Being, for he alone is capable of it.
(Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns of the Nativity)

Do we forget who we are?
Clamouring for prizes, for profit, for land,
The spaces we contest constrain us.
Who was Herod when he feared a baby?
Who was the baby when he taught Herod truth?
Let us bring right gifts to the right honoured guest;
Let life know itself in the truest Light.
Vaster than under heavens, grander than all ego,
True being lies helpless among cattle.

20 Contemplations #5: Rhythm of the Three

Albrecht_Dürer_-_The_Trinity_(NGA_1943.3.3674)
Albrecht Dürer – The Trinity

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
(John 1:18)

“I and the Father are one.” Such mystery
Finds no answer in biology. Why
Not “I and my mother”? One for a time,
Yet divided at birth, distinct in history.
No, “I and the Father”: one in memory,
In substance and rhythm. Defying rhyme,
They split. The Son descends; the downward climb
Disrupts, unites. The Son descends to me…

A backward glance? What has He left behind?
Yet what is set before Him too: a feast,
Many sons and daughters brought to light.
One being, rent asunder; perfect mind
Never faults in purpose, west to east;
The Three-in-One, creation’s heart delight.

20 Contemplations #4: Magnify

Rossetti_Annunciation
Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Ecce Ancilla Domini (The Annunciation)

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
(Luke 1:29)

Magnify, soul. Let mind expand; let heart
Take in what cannot be contained. Discern,
Yet know the limits of your thoughts. Return
Again, again, to faith. Take humble part
In grandest story. This is just the start
Of nations in upheaval; kingdoms burn
Beneath this unexpected cosmic turn.
Take heart. Take faith, though angels will depart.

What will this mean when Joseph hears the news?
Or when the labour pains make all this seem
Confused, a blur, too far-fetched for a dream?
Remember Sarah, Hannah. Look back on
The stories of this mystery-grace, beacons
Of the secret glory now contained in you.

20 Contemplations #3: Downward Flight

Wassily Kandinsky - Improvisation 26
Wassily Kandinsky, “Improvisation 26”

…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…
(Philippians 2:6-7)

He wraps Himself in light. He orders stars
And plunges to depths unseen since Adam.
Watch the flurry of clouds; watch each atom’s
Disarray as He switches near and far.
Who can make this be? We wonder what You are
That Your disorder should not be random.
Every speck, each stardust spark is planned, on
Cue; wings of night appear, angels in choir –

Listen: the heavens rearrange. He comes down
To dirt, to manger hay, carpenter’s dust.
Fathom this grace? None can. Ever deepening,
Ever plummeting the heart’s mire, it must
Defy our brain’s capacity, must drown
All expectation at this wonder, sleeping.

20 Contemplations #1: Colours of the Father

What do you see? He is invisible

Yet all creation knows Him. Listen:

The birds slow their flight for Him; leaves glisten

In all His coloured light. Impossible

Strains of symmetry glide through chaos: simple

In their dignity, yet rich in vision.

Catch the smallest glimpse, the grandest impression:

He is more – glorious, indivisible.

Eye cannot see; microscope cannot capture

Yet soon He will break from Godhead to be

Zygotic, a blip. Consider the rapture,

The folly. Look at the Father and see

The crimson of life, the brown of this hay,

The exploding grace of the rainbow.