Pillars of Creation : image from Webb Telescope
“It is the demand of the universe for the birth of the ultra-human. It is the rising of a new form of psychic energy in which the very depth of love within you is combined with what is most essential in the flowing of the cosmic stream. It is Love.” Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955)
When there is a new beginning in a story older than time, everything that follows is seen in a new light. As we look with awe and amazement at the photos being sent back to Earth from the Webb Telescope, we’re being given a fresh vision of the beginnings of our Universe.
Now we may understand words, premonitions, foreshadowings, intuitions, offered by the mystics and poets of the ages.
We might find ourselves saying, “Oh, so that’s what was meant….”
Paul wrote in his first century Letter to the Romans: “From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth…” (8:22)
Meister Eckhart, medieval mystic, wrote: “What does God do all day long? God lies on a maternity bed, giving birth all day long.”
Reflecting on the words of Meister Eckhart, Diarmuid O’Murchu writes:
“The infancy narratives… need to be approached afresh….as an archetypal statement of the God of prodigious birthing….we are called to become co-birthers with our birthing God of the ongoing evolutionary re-creation of God’s world in justice, love, compassion and liberation. Incarnation becomes an empowering and liberating dynamic, and Christians, instead of fleeing the world, are now challenged to embrace it in its full embodied existence.” (Jesus in the Power of Poetry, 2009)
As we look to the approaching Feast of Christmas, as we prepare to celebrate the Birth of the Christ, what if we were to celebrate as well the Birth of our Universe, rejoicing in the Love that gave birth and continues to give birth to everything?
And what if we finally understood that we too are called to give birth?
If we, both women and men, accept this invitation to be co-birthers with God, one shining figure arises to show us the way forward: Mary of Nazareth, the woman called to give birth to the Christ.
In his poems on “the Joyful Mysteries,” John O’Donohue invites us into the heart of Mary as she receives and lives her calling. In these poems we glimpse the wonder, the magnificence, of our own calling to give birth. We are offered hints about how to ready our hearts for what awaits us…
Cast from afar before the stones were born
And rain had rinsed the darkness for colour,
The words have waited for the hunger in her
To become the silence where they could form.
The day’s last light frames her by the window,
A young woman with distance in her gaze,
She could never imagine the surprise
That is hovering over her life now.
The sentence awakens like a raven,
Fluttering and dark, opening her heart
To nest the voice that first whispered the earth
From dream into wind, stone, sky and ocean.
She offers to mother the shadow’s child;
Her untouched life becoming wild inside.
In the morning it takes the mind a while
To find the world again, lost after dream
Has taken the heart to the underworld
To play with the shades of lives not chosen.
She awakens a stranger in her own life,
Her breath loud in the room full of listening.
Taken without touch, her flesh feels the grief
Of belonging to what cannot be seen.
Soon she can no longer bear to be alone.
At dusk she takes the road into the hills.
An anxious moon doubles her among the stone,
A door opens, the older one’s eyes fill.
Two women locked in a story of birth.
Each mirrors the secret the other heard.
3. The Nativity
No man reaches where the moon touches a woman.
Even the moon leaves her when she opens
Deeper into the ripple in her womb
That encircles dark to become flesh and bone.
Someone is coming ashore inside her.
A face deciphers itself from water
And she curves around the gathering wave,
Opening to offer the life it craves.
In a corner stall of pilgrim strangers,
She falls and heaves, holding a tide of tears.
A red wire of pain feeds though every vein
Until night unweaves and the child reaches dawn.
Outside each other now, she sees him first.
Flesh of her flesh, her dreamt son safe on earth.
(John O’Donohue in Connemara Blues)
May we live the wonder of this season as we await our time of birthing.