As a child packs a snowball
tight and firm and
cold seeping even through their mittens
once packed the Universe
into a ball scarce larger than
the pomegranates that had yet to burst
But still a greater miracle awaited!
— a denser packing of Infinity
into small single atoms —
curled Your endless Being up
into an embryo
oh! You who grew
the cosmos on a particle of Breath
You packed Yourself down into
near nothingness —
You waited there
in warm dark roundness till
the time had come for Her to birth you,
wet and bloody, into an uncaring world.
the Being who could wear the galaxy
like a bangle
nursed and grew and toddled,
us tiny beings of the frail bones…
i’ll never, ever
ever fathom it.
Divinity! if i could hold You now
as Mary held you, in my quaking arms
i think i might just know why You sustain
each instant — now, and now, and now again —
all of existence.
Seed upon the palm
tucked lovingly into a rich dark soil
infant on the breast
fed lovingly from one’s own aching flesh
— but not yet. Not yet —
already, yes — and still
with Earth i wait for You
with bated breath.
If you this piece it in your own service, please credit it to Avery Arden and link to binarybreakingworship.com. I also invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know you’re using it!
About this poem: I’ve been going through a time of spiritual stagnancy as religious trauma caught up to me…so it was a gift to awaken a little after midnight on this first Sunday of Advent with images of Divinity and Roundness glowing in my heart like embers, reminding me of birth and rebirth and the eternal sustaining breath of God.
The Creation and the Incarnation are intertwined for me – when I think of God birthing the universe, my mind eventually wanders to the human who birthed God, and vice-versa.
And through the way our liturgical year returns us over and over to the story of God’s entering into Hir good, good world; and the story of God’s creative act lasting not an instant but over all ages, I think of Meister Eckhart’s declaration:
Here are notes about some of the images in this poem:
On the image of the pomegranate for the Big Bang event – have you ever sliced into a pomegranate and pulled the halves apart with enough force for those rich ruby seeds within to fling themselves upward, sideways, all about? That bright explosion is to me a fitting image for that first flinging of dust into infant stars, scattered across black space.
“…the Being who could wear the galaxy / like a bangle…” – this line is inspired by Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore’s depiction of the Lord of the Dance, Shiva, with celestial bodies whirling round his dancing ankles. You can read more of it at this link, but here are the most relevant lines:
Rebellious atoms are subdued into forms at thy dance-time, the suns and planets, anklets of light, twirl round thy moving feet, and, age after age, things struggle to wake from dark slumber, through pain of life, into consciousness, and the ocean of thy bliss breaks out in tumults of suffering and joy. - Rabindranath Tagore
Shiva’s dance is the source of all movement in the universe; it also frees humanity from ignorance and illusion. This conception of Divinity as Dancer resonates deeply with me, and links well in my mind to the Big Bang event – a dance begun so long ago continues into the present and for all time, ever sustaining and constantly transforming the cosmos that Divinity so loves.
“…seed upon the palm…” – we return to the image of a seed, but this time it’s the hazelnut of Julian of Norwich’s visions. In her vision, Christ hands Julian a ball no larger than a hazelnut and tells her that all of Creation is contained within that small globe:
There is not a speck of matter in this universe that is not loved by God, that is not nurtured and watched over by its Creator, who revels in the stars and celebrates the blood pulsing through your fingertips. It is the creative energy and life-bearing power of this Love that forms and sustains each and every one of us. And it is that Love that moved God to slip off Infinity and step into flesh. Already this impossible event has taken place – and yet…we return to it yearly. Await it yearly. Yearn for it yearly.
The already and not yet of God’s Kin(g)dom is a Mystery that I almost think I begin to grasp when I think on the wonder and waiting to which we return as one, every Advent.