Saturday, August 15, 2015

When God Looked on God–in His Mother's Eye

Once, God walked among us as a man. But he didn't arrive here in a heavenly chariot or suddenly appear in a blast of smoke. Rather, He chose to be born as all of us are. And so God the creator of the universe had a human mother, and for a period of time was a growing infant in her womb and then a helpless child, nurtured by her.

Though, of course we know this. I'm not sure many of us have really thought about it as much as it deserves to be thought about. I certainly haven't. We contemplate His death and resurrection as of course we should. But too often perhaps we think of His birth as a kind of eternal snapshot with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men gathered around an angelic looking creature wearing a halo.

But He wasn't an angel and there was no halo.

He was fully God, but He was also a fully human baby with a fully human mother, Mary.

G.K. Chesterton wrote often on this. He felt that it, as much as anything else, gave Christianity its character.

In his wonderful poem "A Little Litany", he imagines the baby Jesus climbing up from His mother's lap and seeing His reflexion in one of her eyes. I say "imagined", but surely it must have happened.

And I mean really happened. Slightly more than 2,000 years ago, a few thousand miles away from where I am now writing, in a place now called "Israel", God looked on God–in His mother's eye.

A Little Litany (1926)

When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven—and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In that strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment's hem
God, grown adventurous from all time's repose,
Or your tall body climbed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.

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