Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Gestation of Joy" by Bob Howard

From my recent reading, a snippet from Thylias Moss’s poem “A Man”:

“This was a more significant time in darkness,
gestation of forty weeks, than three days in a hillside morgue; he learned maternal heartbeat”

Teetering on the edge of joy, pulled back by grasping fingers of grief, we hear that the birth was good news. Angels delivered the package labeled “Good News of Great Joy,” better than the best FedEx or UPS. And yet it lingers on our doorstep. Joy. Somehow it can seem downright offensive, intruding into the sufferings of our days. Joy? When December brings another round of the “Holiday Blues,” when many of us face the season “without you” (as Elvis reminded us)? What possible “joy” could possibly even hope to inflict the tiniest crack in our fortresses of sorrow? Joy? When, with each breath we take, somewhere some child’s final breath slips away forever? What can “joy” do but slink away in embarrassed silence in the face of such monumental human pain?

Rejoice, they said. Good News, they promised. Your God is born this day. Born.

In the silent cave of Mary’s womb, the One called “God with us” learned. “Here I am,” she said to the angelic visitor, “the servant of the Lord; let it be with me as you say” (Luke 1:38). Her heart beat with the entire mix of human emotions: dread, hope, fear, elation, resolve. In silence, He learned. “My soul magnifies the Lord,” she sang to Elizabeth, scattering the proud, bringing down the powerful, lifting up the lowly, feeding the hungry, showing mercy to rich and poor alike (Luke 1:46-55). In silence, He learned. In God’s wisdom, the “maternal heartbeat” of Mary echoed the eternal heartbeat of God.

He arrived after the usual number of weeks, born into a condition that merited anything but joy. And yet they said that he came into that precise situation, “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79). For those who must sit in darkness, he learned in darkness.

And then he arrived, to bring light into our lives. To start his work, learned from maternal heartbeat. Rejoice. Because our darkness will not last. The tears which yet sting our eyes will be wiped away. For, as the angel whispered to Mary, “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). In those fleeting gaps of silence this Christmas, listen with ears eager to catch the eternal heartbeat of Love. Learn from Him, learn with Him, the maternal heartbeat that will sweep you into its embrace. Yes, rejoice, yes.


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