Friday, December 26, 2014

The Baby for the Broken

For Advent, I began reading Caryll Houselander's Wood of the Cradle. I'd heard good things about Houselander's writings and was looking forward to it.

I must admit that I have struggled with it. I am almost half-way through it but it is not what I expected. She is very poetic but also very verbose and what I would like said in a paragraph or maybe a page, she takes 4 pages to expel. I hate to complain, because some of it is beautifully written, but it seems to take her a lot longer than I'd like to get to her point. Unfortunately, because of this, I am moving through it slower than I'd like. But I figure it is just as good Christmas reading as Advent, so I have a couple more weeks to finish it.

It was only this week that I came upon a part that really struck me. She reflects on he infancy of Christ:
"How small and gentle His coming was! He came as an infant."
"God approaches gently, often secretly, always in love, never through violence and fear."
 "There is nothing more mysterious than infancy, nothing so small and yet so imperious. The infancy of Christ has opened a way to us by which we can surrender self to Him absolutely, without putting too much pressure on our weak human nature."
 She points out that God comes to us as an infant. He comes quietly, gently, warmly. He is meek and waits for us to approach Him. He does not force Himself upon us nor begin by scolding us. He comes as a balm to our woundedness.

I remember reading a blog of a woman who had a traumatic childhood, including abuse, from which she has spent her adulthood trying to recover and I've never forgotten how she referred to herself as "broken." We are all broken through our sinfulness but some broken in these traumatic ways from abuse that are impossible to heal on one's own and no one therapy session or confession or priestly conference will cut it. The wound is too deep. It is like a deep gash that even the air or water sting. It is the wound of a broken heart, a slashed soul that yearns to be healed but knows the remedy is a painful one. To be healed requires opening the wound and even just that is incredibly painful never mind applying the medicine.

But it struck me that it is God, in His infinite mercy and kindness, comes as a gentle baby because everyone, even the most wounded, can approach Him there. No matter how battered or beaten or broken, everyone can approach the manger. Everyone can stroke His cheek and feel his warmth against their chest. The newborn Baby alone is so gentle that He can open our wounds without pain and begin to apply the balm of his love.

It may take a lifetime to be completely healed for God heals in His own time, but I think for those who are so broken that approaching the Savior on the cross or the Shepherd on the Mount is too difficult, the way to begin is to enter the stable, kneel on the warm, crisp hay, and gaze into the eyes of the Baby who knows only love and asks only you as you are.


 

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