If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away---Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Word Became Flesh: A Christmas Poem

Jesus Christ,
where do we begin?
In the beginning,
which wasn’t a beginning.
At a time
when there was no time.
Long before the morning stars sang together.
Before God’s body
warmed the cool air of stellar space.
Before the world was hung
on invisible string
and spun like a top on its axis.
Before the seas roared in angry voice,
and the trees laughed in the wind.
Before the mountains proudly lifted their heads,
and the deserts cried out in thirst.
Long before an Unseen Hand
scooped up a batch of clay
from a muddy stream
and molded a living sculpture
that caught the breath of angels.
Before pain was etched on the brow
of a solitary face,
or a tear dropped crystalline
from a single eye.
Before the first cry was heard to burst forth
from between a mother’s legs,
or a note was plucked
upon the string of an angel’s lyre.
When the world was but an egg
incubating in the mind of God.
In the beginning.
When all there was
was silence….
and the Word.

The Word.
In the beginning
without beginning.
Eternity spinning in upon itself
and out again.
The Word was as timeless
as God,
as a clock with no hands or face.
As endless as Life.
Without lips to loose labials
or tongue to grunt gutturals.
Without teeth to sing sibilants,
or mouth to speak it into being.
The Word was.
Ready to communicate
Ready to speak
the first stammering,
s…s…stuttering syllables.
The Word hung on Sacred lips,
for the moment it would speak itself
into words that form sentences of reality.
Then, the silence will be broken.
The Word will speak universes, galaxies,
a tiny rotating blue orb,
and finally….
a word of skin and speech
not unlike itself….
a babbling being.

the Word as
Divine Wisdom.
She waits to woo and win the world,
even before She walks
into the room of time.
One with God,
like two peas in a pod,
twins who wear the same clothes
and think the same thoughts.
distinct from,
yet, fully God.
Very God of very God.
One with the Word.
And yet, other.
As other as the babe nestled in Mary’s womb
waiting on the edge of the world
to be born.
In a word,
to be heard.

Without throat, teeth, or tongue,
the Word spoke….
And silence shattered
into a billion stars,
like broken glass
from an opera singer’s high note.

A world was expelled
by a cough from the lungs of God,
spoken into being.
Tinier than a mustard seed
caught in God’s teeth,
it was flung into space
by one able to move mountains
with the blink of an eye,
fill seas with her tears,
create canyons with her footprints,
who says “Be!”
and it is.
After speaking a six-day sentence,
the tongue of the Word rested,
then tasted what She had made
with one luscious lick.
The Word said,
“It tastes mighty good!”
And the Word became

One day in time,
in eternity
spinning in upon itself
and out again,
Adam’s hand
snapped the string that held the world.
The wobbling world
fell from Eden’s perch
with a CRASHHHH!!
and cracked like a fragile vase
from a Potter’s wheel.
In pain and anguish
the Potter spewed forth colored words
over the broken, gray world.
The words landed
on the tongues of poets and prophets,
who cried out
in the desert
of punctured promises,
wilderness wanderings,
corrupted kings,
tainted temples.
God’s tongue
tasted the nation of her choosing.
It had gone sour.
The Word kept crying out
word upon word upon word.
The stammering, stuttering Word
stuck on the same sounds,
a broken record,
playing over and over
for a broken world
lying on the dying floor.

From deep within the bosom of God
the Word prepared to speak
a word unlike any word
that ever fell on human ear
or rolled off prophet’s tongue.
The Word rumbled around
in the belly of God
a mouth to speak it,
a tongue to articulate it,
a body to dance it,
a womb to birth it.
Then, the Word found
an open door into the world,
the only way to enter
the blood and bone sanctuary.

The Word became flesh.
Not like the putting on of clothing
to walk into the cold of winter.
Nor like an ancient actor wearing a mask
that displays personae and hides identity.
The Word became flesh,
vulnerable and vexed,
weak and wearied,
finite and fragile,

Just to speak the word
grates across the tongue.
Paraded and pink
on long legs looking for lonely lovers,
pleasure for pay.
Tan and taut
as leather stretched over a cage of bones
lying on the streets of Calcutta.
Bruised and battered
by angry hands
in a home bittersweet home
where Sophia cries.
Pale and pocked
By a four-letter disease
that numbers your days.
Wrinkled and wormed
lying in a satin-lined box
dust to dust.

The Word became flesssshhh.
Tormented and tempted,
tried and tested,
and tight enough
to be pierced
and hung out to dry
on two crossed sticks.

The Word
packed up its heavenly tent
and moved to a new home
sweet home
in the belly, of all things
…. a virgin.
From flesh came flesh.
In a barnyard of beasts.
Pushed out onto the hard earth
like raw meat
hanging in the window of a butcher shop.
The screaming wonder
wrapped in strips of cloth,
a mummy for the tomb.
The Word entered the world
of babbling beings
unable to speak…a word.
While angels bent over the earth
silent as a whisper.

Wrapped up tight
in the humanity of that child,
a future of unborn days,
when that fine hair will glisten
with water from the Jordan river,
when those tiny hands will scoop up mud
and heal hollow eyes,
when those lips will drip words of honey
on the tastebuds of hungry ears,
when those two round eyes,
as big as worlds,
will look upon the multitudes
hungry for more than bread,
thirsty for more than wine,
longing for true communion.
The day will come when those small ears
will hear the whispers of heaven
and clothe them in words.
The Word pitched a tent among us,
stretched out the cords of a sacred temple,
nailed them down,
and made our home his home,
our sod his sod,
our God his God.
Even death,
the end of speech,
could not silence him.
The Word still speaks.

The Word that was
and is
and is to come,
is with us.
When we toss and turn
in the sheets of pain,
sit in solitude,
hold the crumbs of our future
in our trembling hands,
or when life bursts through our door
with party horns blaring
and rainbow streamers flying
curly-cue in the air,
or when sitting
on the edge of the world
watching the dying sun
paint the sky with invisible brush
colors that pale the palette of Picasso.
The Word is with us,
when little ones make their singing debut
in the maternity ward,
or when a wrinkled hand drops limp
at the side of a rocking chair
in a rest home,
sweet rest, home.
The Word still speaks
in words wrapped in the swaddling clothes
of the human .

The Word became flesh.
With human face.
Have you seen the Word?
broken smile,
broken spirit,
begging near the freeway off ramp.
looking for cans in the park,
a sleeping place in the dark.
The Word with a face
seen between empty spaces
of iron bars
or at empty places
like local bars.
To miss the face,
the other,
the Word,
among the least of these,
is to stop the ears
to the sound of sacred speech,
and to end up as guilty as a goat
on judgment day.

O, Wondrous Word,
Let us see your face.
As black as night
in a Savannah swamp,
as pale as the moon
on Chesapeake Bay,
as red as mud
on an Oklahoma road,
as brown as earth beneath
Mexican sandals.
O, wonderful Word,
Will we listen for your voice
only in soaring song and silent sanctuary,
in petitioning prayer and preacher’s proclamation,
in bound Bible and believer’s bosom?
Or will we tune our ears
to listen for the Word
in the lost and lonely places,
the forgotten and forsaken places,
the marginal and manger places
of this turning orb?

The Word still speaks
from as far away as forever
or as near as a neighbor.
The Word still speaks
louder than dividing walls that fall.
Quiet as a flower budding
on April’s first birthday.
The Word still speaks
in eternity
spinning in upon itself
and out again
and in the still, small voice
of this moment….
The Word
is with us.
And we behold the glory,
full of grace and truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment