When Love Came Down

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I know I don’t speak for everyone, but I also know I am not alone.

Although often rich in joy and beauty, this year has been rife with struggle and pain, heartache and longing, heaving and sorrow.

And despite my measured attempts to catch the glory stream that daily pours over and around and down over my head, I more often feel weighed down by the chaff and dust stirred up by living.

My heart has been wrenched by deep loss and more of my days have been spent putting one rudimentary foot in front of the other. But I know I am not alone. This slow walk towards life is one in which many are bumbling along.

And because this is Christmas Eve, I can’t help but think of Mary who, in the simple wisp of a moment, found all that was once aright suddenly turned upside down. That which she thought was to be, was now rewritten.

I’m sure she couldn’t help but feel lost in the new story. Before the pondering in her heart, before the Song, there must have been a grieving of the spirit. For a time.

But grief is strange. What often feels like a shrinking is actually an opening up of space. The experience of pain and the walking through it, one stolid step at a time? It can become a portal through which new forms are born.

So, on this day—the cusp of the one when Love came down—I offer you a poem. A poem of brokenness and beauty all mingled down together.

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Every step is heavy
and the old me wants to stubbornly walk
I am still young and strong and capable
thank you very much
but the new me
the one that harbors a wild and crazy fire inside
I am more honest
I take the seat offered to me
my mother’s voice lingering in my ear
“A poor ride is better than a proud walk, dear”

The city is rank with humanity
there are fires burning
laughter lilts out of doorways
and somewhere there is a tinkling of bells
I am so tired

We wander
Me, splayed across a stinky ass
He, silent but steadfast
despite the crush of buildings and market stands
there are stars flung across the cavernous sky
like so many saints and sinners
and who are we, again?

I’ve been biting my lip and holding my breath
for hours
but even I can’t hold back a blessed miracle
and He who was first a Word
He cries out through me
I am not ready but
He is coming
like a ring of fire
the Life Light sears into the darkness
Lord help me

There is so much pouring out of me
and the salt mixes with blood
and it flows like wine at a wedding feast
I cry out
but there are no words
for how do you sing glory
when you didn’t ask for the gift?

I look down
fearful of what I will find
because I do believe that I am dying now
and all of this has been a joke
the visitation, the angel,
the ridiculous story meant to redeem
I am a fool
My heart that gathered all of it up
has betrayed me

But then I see Him
naked and tiny and screaming
and suddenly
all I want to do is save him from this hell hole
we’ve landed in

I gather him up
all caked in vernix and sweat and hay
He is flailing wildly
desperately searching for my face
I pull him to me
pressing his wet head against my nose
he smells like the angel did
the one that told me I was beautiful

I sit down upon the dirt in surrender
pulling the babe to my chest
both of us are breathing hard and fast
grasping the other with all that we have
and something down deep knows
it won’t be the last time

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