I walk with Dad along the wooded trail. It’s colder than when we walked a few days ago, and I wonder whether the puddles on the stretch ahead will still bear the delicate fenestrations, the windows of water between gentle curves of feathery ice.
It’s frozen this time. We crunch ungently through a thin place. Witnessing the ragged edges left by our shoes, my heart mourns. How coarse our footsteps compared to the gentle fingers of God that come in the night and leave fresh love-art all over the world, where we see it and where we don’t and even in places we’re more likely to step blindly than to kneel and worship its Creator. Our Creator.
I feel again my same coarse clumsiness each time I approach the mystery of incarnation. So gently God comes, yet so clearly—God looking out of a pair of human eyes, jumping in puddles, lying on the grass he spoke into being, snuggling close to the mother whom he first formed and then entered. So clearly he comes—God among us, in us—yet the layers of mystery shimmer like fragile fronds that I fear will break under the weight of my words.
I kneel and marvel once more at the mystery: God in us. In us!
Before He came, even God-among-us was seen as a sacred gift for a chosen few (Deut 4:7); God-in-us was unthinkable.
He is Creator, we are his creatures, and the difference between us is vast.
“It is he who made us, and we are his. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.” (Ps. 100:3 )
“He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.” (Is. 40:22)
“This is what God the LORD says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out. . . who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it. . .” (Isaiah 42:5)
And then—surprise!—in the womb of a willing young woman, the inconceivable was conceived. God knelt and knitted himself to human flesh. God embraced not-God, and, in the person of Jesus, God and not-God became one.
This is the mystery of the incarnation: that God so loves that which is not God that He would knot himself to us forever, the start of a holy marriage in the person of Jesus.
And as I kneel at the manger and ponder the love that comes so small and quietly, without even words to explain Himself, I worship.
Exactly how Christ lives in us is as opaque a mystery to me as exactly how God knitted Himself to human flesh in Mary’s womb. There are glimpses and windows, of course—the cross and the empty tomb and Jesus ascending to the Father and returning to live in us through the Holy Spirit—but through all the centuries of pages written, which of them can finally explain something inexplicable?
Only this I know: as surely as the dark readiness of a womb became the place of holy mystery, of love so unthinkably creative and wise and humble, so surely, with a simple “yes,” can our darkest places become the cradle of profound love.