Wednesday, December 3, 2008

unreasonable beauty: a follow up

Whidbey Island, Washington

Last night Jon and I went to the once-a-month prayer gathering at church. We've been going to these each month for several months and as our pastor likes to say, "It is a sweet, sweet time." To begin our time last night, the pastor read a poem entitled Christmas, Whidbey Island, by Loren Wilkinson. Here is the poem:

Not in the waves, nor in the wave-torn kelp;
Not in the heron by the lake at dawn,
Nor owls' haunting of the wood,
Nor rabbits browsing frightened on the lawn;
Neither in the widening whirl
Of seashell, galaxy, or cedar burl,
Nor in the mushrooms' bursting of the humid ground:
In nothing of his bright, shy world
May God the fathering be found,

If not found first in Bethlehem,
In thirsty hay, on hoof-packed earth,
Where a girl, cruciform with pain
Grips manger boards in childbirth.
There in the harsh particular
In drafts and stench of cow manure
The squawls of Christ, Creator sound:
Where God grasped not at Godhead in a child,
There only will the God of life be found.

Now: if we upon this wave-shaped bluff
Stand in the straw of Bethlehem
Then God shines out from everything:
The agate in the surf, the withered flower stem,
The fish that gives its body for the seal
The flesh, the fruits that form each common meal,
The dance of pain and love in which our lives are wound:
Since God was flesh at Bethlehem,
In all the world's flesh may God be found.

I hear in these words a new perspective on what I wrote earlier about beauty. The beauty of creation is always glorifying God, but our eyes are fully opened to it when we see and understand the Incarnation. I wish I had more eloquent things to say about that, but Wilkinson has said it all. I won't take away from his words by adding too many of my own.

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