Christmas Day has come and gone. Well not completely gone. Some of us are carrying around an extra pound or two, as a result of the festivities which accompany the celebration of the birth of The God-man. We celebrate, and now continue to celebrate, that fact that Love became a human being. He became like us in all things, except sin. In this wonderful mystery of Love becoming human, we come to realize, our first love has caught up with us again. First loves, are always special, and are never forgotten. As we live in that reality, therein a challenge for you and I. We have come from the love of God. A love experienced in The Community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Would it be fair to say that that really is the original Holy Family? All of us have left the place where we were one. We were one with God, and we were one with one another, in the love of God. We have left that place, which is our original and permanent home, to enter into our second and transitory home of our human experience. Like all exiles, what we carry with us, is a memory of the first home, and our first love. Being in exile is not easy. I can tell you that truthfully, from my own experience, of living a life, in exile for 47 years. The memories of home, and loved ones, are always with you. From time to time your heart really aches for the familiar. The familiar home voices, accent, streets, neighborhood, and above all countryside. The exile is an exile forever until a home, a sanctuary or the spirit is created. That creation like all creation is an ongoing process. The process demands of us to connect again and again with the Aishling of God, the dream of God, for us. For us as individuals, as family, and as the family of humankind. We must allow the light, life and love, of God to guide us as we make this journey, all the while a sanctuary is being created. This creation is the work of grace, God’s love in action. This is a journey, this is a process, we make one moment at a time. A journey we take one step at a time. It is our mysterious, sacred hike.
A few times on a hike, out of state, I have come across fellow Irish-exiles on the trail. It was the sound of the accents from our greetings that led to the question, “And where are you from?”. This led to a long conversation. Why? Because it takes an Irish person at least five minutes just to say “hello”, and “how is it going?” There is joy and laughter in the conversation. A conversation always tinged with a sadness. One knows as good as this is, it is going to stop. There has to be, “the moving on”. Because of the encounter, you move on a little lighter in your step, your spirit has been brightened by the meeting of a fellow exile.
“The savage loves his native shore, though rude the soil and chill the air, well then may Erin’s sons adore. Their isle, which nature formed so fair.” [James Orr.]
Exiles need fellow exiles. To my way of thinking, our Father must have looked down on us, His exiled children, and what He saw moved Him to compassion. He saw us at times being lost, dispirited, scared, lonely, disconnected, being battered by feelings of alienation and abandonment. So, He sent His son into exile, with us. A son, who came, emptied of the trappings of divinity so he could be immersed and be able to embrace all that it means to be human. Jesus, God in exile, embraced your humanity and my humanity. He embraced it to the point where He too, knew what it was to be lonely, abandoned, betrayed, scared, hungering for human companionship. He not only drank from the cup of our humanity, He drained it to the last drop, to the bitter end.
So we would not be threatened, God comes to us as a vulnerable baby. It is as if to say to you and I, “I am not here to scare you, to threaten you, to trigger feelings of guilt, fear and shame. I am here to remind you of the love which you are loved from the very beginning. The love from which you came from and the love to which you shall return. Of all my creations, there is no newborn more vulnerable than the human child. Here I am-I am with you. That is why I am called Emmanuel. I am here to live with you-to suffer with you and to die for you.” The following is a quotation from Henry Nowen, the quotation which we can imagine the Christ-child saying to you and I;
“I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, in you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted your together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair of your head and guided you every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food, I will satisfy all your hunger and give you drink that quench all of your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own, as I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover, and your spouse. . . yes, even your child. . . Wherever you are, I will be. Nothing will ever separate us, we are one.”
As we begin to listen, as we begin to accept the reality of what that tiny voice says to us, our home, our sanctuary is being constructed. We will now have a place to call home, here on earth. What a gift this homeless Child bestows upon us, this gift is given to open hand, not, clinched fists.
A dreamer's journey continues....