Carol Green, Oshea Israel, and Mary Johnson: Visions of the Holy Family
by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Vis Companion
Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. – Colossians: 3: 12-13
I wonder how many ways there are to see and celebrate the Holy Family? Mary, Joseph, Jesus: a motley crew if you ever really stop to think about it. We have this blessed virgin who has conceived a child (what?!); shes’s a woman wondering deeply, I imagine, about her future, her sanity, her calling to bear a child that – according to an angel – will do great things. Whew. Then there’s this husband of hers who wants to run, in the midst of the possible scandal (and you have to imagine, contemplating his betrothed’s infidelity), but who receives his own sign in a dream and stays put: committed to Ms. Mary. And then the babe, Himself. Little Jesus: born into a barn-yard space in the wake of closed, crowded, “no-room-inns.” An infant surrounded by straw, manure, livestock, with stars shining overhead. And then we go further, and note that after the birth, these three are on the run. Fleeing their homeland for safer space, where their lives, this baby boy’s well-being, is not at stake.
When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.” — Matthew 2:13
How many ways are there to see and celebrate this ensemble? Can we fathom this crew in our midst? Do we see and seek them inside our churches, our gyms, our grocery stores? Can you look across your own living room and see this mother, father, or child? I wonder. Are there individuals you know who seem to be visited by angels? Are you acquainted with anyone who has had a dream that informed his waking life? Do you know precious, innocent children who are born into the muck, but are dearly beloved, the Divine in our midst? Have you encountered individuals working to honor their lives, their callings, who have made choices to relocate, or sought refuge in the space of a new homeland? Do you know anyone who seems to be living a kind of miracle existence?
I look at my husband, Francois Kiemde, in this light. He is a kind of Joseph, holding fast to a dream: a West African immigrant who settled here in the states in search of honoring his own calling by God. (Shoot, I could draw further analogies between him and Joseph. As the human father to Christ runs across the border to Egypt for safety, I see Mr. Kiemde crossing over the Wisconsin border in another kind of choice to seek refuge and honor-Love-at-work.) I look at our baby girl, Marguerite, and know the Divine indwelling. I reflect in my own heart, and feel the kinship of Mary: a woman saying “yes” despite the odds, making choices that might fly in the face of conventional wisdom.
“At the center of this kind of Holy Family dynamic exists the sanctity and security of Love getting born, right? Of the inconceivable being conceived and entering our midst. The surrogate father, the chosen mother, and the Holy Spirit co-mingle to create this ensemble that brings forth the Divine.” -Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde
My mind goes across the Mississippi River to North Minneapolis, where so many of my friends dwell, so many I experience the Holy Family in and through….These blessed Visitation Sisters have been a Holy Family of sorts to me for years: making a space for me to enter and be received as I am – wondering, wanting, asking, aching, loving. I know I am not alone in this relationship with the sisters. There are countless others – neighbors, church members, community allies, collaborators, folks on the street, who see and seek this kind of sacred alliance of Love and safety with the nuns. We are all supported in our respective spaces to come through the doors of the Monastery and feel re-born, feel alive and so perfectly loved, in the face of whatever our circumstances might be; we are not unlike the Christ child Himself.
"These blessed Visitation Sisters have been a Holy Family of sorts to me for years: making a space for me to enter and be received as I am."
Yes. At the center of this kind of holy family dynamic exists the sanctity and security of Love getting born, right? Of the inconceivable being conceived and entering our midst. The surrogate father, the chosen mother, and the Holy Spirit co-mingle to create this ensemble that brings forth the Divine — often into surreal circumstances.
A recent set of headlines* remind me of how wild God is in creating this Holy Family in our midst. Mary Johnson, Oshea Israel, and Carol Green are another manifestation, in my mind, of the Divine coming to dwell in and through an unfathomable set of events. Do you know the tale of this young man and his two mothers? The one who gave birth to him – literally? The other who helped give life to him — spiritually? Oshea Israel, born Marlon Green to his biological mother Ms. Carol Green, and who became a new man when he was forgiven by Mary Johnson, for killing her own biological child? Two women, Carol and Mary, who are now mothers to this child — and it all seems possible in my imagination, only through the lens of the Christ Child and His birth, his family and blessed existence. In Mary, Carol and Oshea, we have the configuration of the most unlikely beings, coming to claim one another and forge an alliance that brings forth something larger than any one of them alone. They witness a love, a dream, an angelic and Holy Spirit like entity that is akin to the Incarnation itself.
In Mary, Carol and Oshea, we have the configuration of the most unlikely beings, coming to claim one another and forge an alliance that brings forth something larger than any one of them alone. They witness a love, a dream, an angelic and Holy Spirit- like entity that is akin to the Incarnation itself. -Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde
As I close out these contemplative musings, I invite you to look around at your life. I invite to see within yourself, the presence of God, and recognize the family that helps give birth, over and over, to this Divine indwelling. I urge you to be a Joseph or Mary to others, and discover the miracle of Love made flesh in your immediate world.
To read more on our friends Mary, Oshea and Carol, see these recent articles in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press:
By: Randy Furst, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) / MCT (Click here to read)