Seeking Solace in the Incarnation

The Christ Child, from Sandro Botticellis Madonna of the Pomegranate.

The Christ Child, from Sandro Botticelli's "Madonna of the Pomegranate."

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

Her job is to stock shelves. Fill in the cans of Starkist and Campbell’s and Ivory dish soap when they get low. Or maybe his gig is to check people out, scan bar-coded grocery items, weigh cabbage and tomatoes, and bag purchased supplies so they travel home gently in their sacks to a wanting family. But on Monday morning in St. Paul, this clerk (was it a woman or a man? or a whole team of cashiers?) was held up at gun point in the grocery store a few blocks from my home. An attempted robbery during this Advent season.

I keep thinking of this person, unsure of their gender, but keenly connected to their humanity. I wonder: was she afraid? Did he tremble? What ran through her mind when the barrel of the gun came up to her face? Where is he now? How is this person fairing?

***

On Friday people all across this nation were tuned into the horror of one gun-related atrocity. As a plugged-in-people, we couldn’t escape the events of December 14, 2012, when a 20 year-old man opened fire and killed 26 children and adults at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. We became a more consciously aware vulnerable nation.

This robbery at the local grocery store, just blocks from my home, had nothing in common with the event in Newtown, CT, save that a gun was involved and that the bearers of those guns are now both dead.

Both incidents leave me feeling very vulnerable — wide open, raw, and a bit afraid. I don’t like being afraid.

***

It’s Advent. It’s a season when God is born among us; he takes human form and enters this world as the Christ Child. He becomes one of us: vulnerable, human, small — perhaps, sometimes, too – afraid. A week from today we celebrate Jesus’ birth, recounting his humble entrance as his earthly parents lay him to rest in a manger.

Can you see this baby? His writhing olive-skinned limbs? His swaddled form being snuggled by first-time mother Mary? Can you smell his new sweet scent and imagine all that perfumes the air on this night? How fragrant is the hay, are the sheep and cattle? What stirs in the heart of Joseph as he first sees Jesus? What instincts kick in as this babe is born in the open air, outside the confines of home or assigned health care?

It’s this vulnerability of our God that makes me weep. It’s this incarnation that gives me comfort. I must admit, as a grown woman, as a seeker of love and tranquility, a significant part of me wants to crawl in alongside Christ and snuggle in. I want to lie right next to the babe, Jesus.

As we count down our days to Christmas and hold open our hearts to the miracles and mysteries of this season, it is my prayer that in our vulnerability we recognize the Christ child. It is my hope that in the midst of headlines that might be wreaking havoc on our sense of security as a people, that we seek solace in the God that is right next to us; that we know we are not alone.

Peace be with us.

6 Responses

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  1. I am thinking right now that Mary probably knows too well what the parents of the children are feeling, since she lost her son, too. He lived longer than they did and did get to grow up, but mothers are mothers after all. When Jesus was born the world was a scary place, just like today. We must all be brave like she was.

  2. Amen.
    Thank you, Laura!

    –Melissa

  3. Imagine how vunerable the Blessed Virgin Mary must have felt from the whole experience… Annunciation to our Lord’s death on the cross… How much faith she had in our Lord to bring her thorough all this vunerability and probably a little fear also in the mix… How we must adopt the faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary to also bring us thorough… Think about that… Blessed Be…

  4. Thanks for your words of comfort here, dear Melissa and as you channel comfort thru you, may you receive more. Blessings to you.

  5. Thank you for this Melissa. I read your words about wanting to crawl in alongside Christ and snuggle in and I feel all the heaviness and tiredness of my body wanting to do the same…for safety, for peace, and for deep breath. Thank you for this. In the midst of all of this darkness and in all the ways we try to distract ourselves from the darkness of winter days you remind me of where my heart and body want to be, near Christ and with loving mothers. May we all feel some safety, peace and deep breaths near Christ today.

  6. Hmmm…. Love you, Ms. Brown.
    Thanks, Linnea, for the note on receiving. Yes.
    And, YES, Khalilah, contemplating the heart of Mary in and through all this….LOVE.

    The Christ child is here, being born again in our midst, in our limbs, in our hearts….

    Incarnation blessings,
    Melissa

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