Thursday, January 19, 2012

He is Immanuel, letter two, hilary to preston

So in this space, where the word is build, something new is beginning over here on Thursdays. My good friend (it seems like we met and became friends much longer than a few months ago) Preston and I are writing to each other. We already write, and ramble, our way to Theology so often in our Facebook messages and Skype conversations that we thought we should bring it our spaces, too. So Preston writes a letter to me in his space on Tuesdays, and I respond over here on Thursdays. This is how we really talk to each other, raw and mixed up with poetry and wonder and Gossip Girl episodes and Flannery O'Connor and Mystery. We hope you'll come join us, as we ask and wonder with each other and with you.

Dear Preston,

I'm biased towards Advent. Can one be biased towards a particular time of the Church year? Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am. I love the newness of it, how our hearts relearn their own beginning, how we are brought up short, gasping, at the wonder made real once again. Because He doesn't ever seem to tire of telling us this story about Himself - how He is Immanuel. God with us. 

I've been thinking about that - it has such implications for our bodies. You said it so well - "The Jews with Elijah and the valley of dry bones and the awaited resurrection and a soul that could not exist without the body and a body that could not exist without a soul—they knew." Oh yes, this being remade has everything to do with the mystery of souls that meet bodies and dwell together in such a way that I don't know how to know one without the other. 

And He blessed it. He blessed our limitations, blessed this humanness that we are. He saved us through it, by becoming one with it. Do you ever just sit there, at your kitchen table, paints and brushes still, and think about how much He must love you? How particularly He must love us all, to do that? How He must marvel at what He's woven together? 

I was at Lessons and Carols this year and the choir sang this piece by Lloyd Pfautsch called "A Wondrous Mystery." They split into two smaller choirs, on opposite sides of the church, and began to sing in dissonance, fighting with each other musically, singing about the Fall, and this separation, chasm, between man and God. 

And then the choirs bridged, resounding, and this sound filled the place and I started crying because the bridge is this - God became man. 

Immanuel. You've said it to me before - He tabernacles with us. This is, I wrote to someone once, the biggest reason I trust Christianity, hard as it is. Because He is God with us. Because He built the bridge in a body, with flesh and blood and sweat and the making of all the cosmos is found in the fingertips, in the wailing, in the fists that flail against Mary deep in the night. 

They say, you know, that the universe is expanding at a rate that our minds can't contemplate. It's too many orders of magnitude high, too much to understand. My friend once explained to me how they found the newest sub-sub-atomic particle, and I think I nodded, and tried to understand it, and I'd like to really understand it... but all I can remember is thinking of that Baby. She waved her arms in a complex three dimensional drawing, and all I could think was, "What about that Baby?"

Our hope as we live among this rate of expansion, the cold potential meaninglessness of it all, the indifference of 8,000 billion galaxies, is in nothing less than the bridge He builds with a body. Nothing less than that Baby. It seems so absurd, sometimes. I feel like I'm standing out in a field in the middle of winter, shouting to that cold blue sky - "I'm staking my life on that Baby!" 

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? What do we call wisdom, what do we call foolishness, if that is what we're going to shout to the sky?

I hope you're well. And when I found this, it seemed right -  "Perhaps what we are called to do may not seem like much, but the butterfly is a small creature to affect galaxies thousands of light-years away." (Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time)



  1. love this, hilary.  beautifully written.  looking forward to hearing more and love how much and what you're writing these days!  

  2. Thank you, Steph! I'm enjoying writing more, too. I'm especially looking forward to this series. 

  3. The incarnation's being ricocheting through me for the past few months. Its fullness hasn't settled yet.
    Thank you for this reflection. And for the phrase "I'm staking my life on that Baby." So true. So foolish. So incredible. So hopeful.

  4. Thank you, Suzanne. It is so incredible to stake our lives on that Baby. Beautiful, incredible, and true. 

  5. Well-said! I especially like the idea of tabernacle. Thought-provoking stuff here!

  6. Thank you, Sarah! You should definitely read Preston's letter, too -!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...