Friday, April 27, 2007
Flesh of our Flesh
this was my prayer, my moment with the Almighty this morning...
When were you last slapped,
hard in the face,
out of the blue,
so you were stunned,
had pins and needles,
lost your sense of being for a second
and then watched your skin swell, darken, run
...and stretch to its limits?
When did you last last hold a baby up to
your own face, God,
smell the warm body,
touch the innocent skin,
know the life pass between you, with no words?
Do you have feelings too, God?
Do things touch you?
Are you spirit or are you substance,
for real or only ether-real,
or you there or everywhere?
If we reached out and touched you
would our hands pass right through
...your elusive, divine self?
What about any distinguishing characteristics?
What colour are you God?
How's your eyesight,
what's your body like,
would we spot you in a crowd,
would we stare at you for some disability?
How many senses have you got, God,
five, six, eighteen, ninety-four?
And your sense of touch,
is your handshake firm as a vice
or slippery as an eel?
What do you smell of God?
Anything in particular,
the universe, is it,
planets, oceans, space, skies?
If it's true that your Spirit is always willing
...is your flesh ever weak?
And if the Word was made flesh,
are you flesh of our flesh,
bone of our bone?
Is that you there, meek and mild,
meanly wrapped in swaddling clothes?
Is that you, Baby J,
Word of the Father,
now in flesh appearing,
is that you, screaming as you arrive
like the rest of us,
screaming at the shock of the new,
the shock of the cold and old and broken?
Is that you,
slipping clumsily out from between
a Virgin's legs,
covered in blood and gunge and straw,
when moments before,
you had been covered in glory?
Tied to the mother of God by stringy flesh,
sucking for your very own life on a woman's breast
...what a come-down.
And is someone slapping your bum,
God gets a thrashing,
God gets to feel flesh on flesh
and it makes him cry?
Still, at least you had an audience,
cows, was it, or maybe a goat or two?
Did they look at you in awe and wonder,
were the cattle lowing a bit,
or were they a smelly nuisance?
But 'little Lord Jesus no crying he makes'.
Well, that doesn't sound right.
The thing about flesh is that it makes you cry;
for better or worse, you've got to cry.
'Who is he in yonder stall
at whose feet the shepherds fall?'
Did they fall?
Did they recognise you up close,
did they know that it was you, God,
starkers, in the flesh,
or were they just intrigued by
the heavenly host
and that funny star?
And did the flesh inconvenience
and annoy and anger you,
like it does the rest of us,
your fleshy creatures?
Did your nose run green,
your skin flake or bruise red,
Did your breath catch with asthma
in that smelly barn,
your chest tighten in fear?
were you irritated by flies and gnats
(ones you had made earlier),
...or did they show some respect?
And later on, what did you do about
your fleshly lusts?
And, just out of interest, where, on earth,
did you go for your private moments
- are there miraculously fertile plants
trees with roots for miles
and branches into the heavens
forever bearing fruit
...or are those places
where the divine squatted in squalor with his
and wiped his bum with leaves,
just like any other place?
When you were tired,
when it was all going wrong,
when your friends misunderstood,
did you think,
'What did I get into this body-business for?'
swapping spirit for flesh,
swapping omnipresence for being somwhere
Did you feel trapped in that body,
or didn't you know what it had been like
before you became body?
When were you in-carnate
...did you recall what it was like
Flesh doesn't fly, usually,
flesh can't be in more than one place at a time,
flesh is limited, awkward.
Did you ever notice it,
did you wonder at the restrictions of
the body corporeal,
or were you just one of us,
Did the flesh exhilarate you,
did you run and laugh and fall,
did you sweat and wrestle and argue
and were you grateful to live
to be one of us?
"He was little, weak and helpless,
tears and smiles like us he knew,
and he feeleth for our sadness,
and he shareth in our gladness."
And how's your body now,
do you wear a halo, or a crown,
is it of gold, or is it of thorns,
are there marks on your palms,
have you got blood on the side of your shirt still?
Jesus of the body, of the flesh,
Jesus of the teeth and hair and toenails,
welcome to the body, God
and thank you for taking it,
for putting flesh on the bones of
our skeletal lives,
thank you, Jesus, for becoming body among us,
that veiled in flesh Godhead we see.
Flesh is all we have
but, as you know now,
flesh is not all we are.
Crafted by this great man, my friend Martin Wroe from his book, 'When You Haven't Got a Prayer: A journalist talks to God' (Lion, 1997)