In the beginning was the word, we are told,
and this word became flesh
and our flesh, in turn, becomes words,
and words bear meaning
to remind us
that a child is never just a child.
A child, Advent reminds us,
is to be held, or worshipped,
And no child comes into the world alone,
just as no word stands alone.
Every word finds its place
in sorrow, meaning or celebration.
Museums and monuments dedicated to famous writers
often feature their desks, their dens, their offices.
I have none of that.
I write at my dining room table,
Among the plates and placemats.
I write where I eat.
I am nourished by words as much as by my food.
I have learned to like that;
my thoughts are not safe, isolated or distant.
They emerge from the crumbs and clutter of my daily life.
And not just my life.
A life is never just a life.
No one of us stands alone.
We are here at the hands of those who made us.
And they at the hands of those who made them.
And all of us at the hands of a Creator
and destiny we can never fully know.
St Francis came up with the idea of the Christmas Crèche.
The crucifixion cross, the symbol of murder and oppression, he thought,
Did not speak of the God who came as a child,
to speak, to save, and to live among us.
When I was a child
I loved setting up the Christmas Crèches,
the child among the shepherds, animals and stars.
Most of the time, we imagine the Christ child alone.
But he never is.
And we imagine ourselves alone.
But we never are.
I knew a young woman many years ago who,
in desperation and anguish,
wandered the local woods
where she found a pair of broken statue’s feet,
stolen, we thought, from a local church.
She called them the feet of Jesus,
and she wailed and cursed
and prayed over them.
She, who had mostly known shame and pain and betrayal at the hands of men,
found refuge, hope and humanity in those broken feet.
A child is never just a child,
A word is never just a word.
The word becomes flesh,
and our flesh becomes words
and their meaning
is far more than we can know.