Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The necessity of Incarnation

Reflecting with the usual five friends on the last year’s joys, follies, grunts and frustrations, ecstatic and ordinary, long term trends emerge. We’ve been doing this together in this monastery at this time of year for almost thirty years, and someone noticed the way in which our conversation is less entirely than it was driven by ideals and the impossibility of bringing them to pass. We seem to have developed far greater acceptance of human realities over the past ten years or so. Rationalising this indicates that ideals, even good ones, need to take flesh or they don’t mean a thing. Cue D. H. Lawrence:

They say that reality exists only in the spirit
that corporeal existence is a kind of death
that pure being is bodiless
that the idea of the form precedes the idea substantial.

But what nonsense it is!
as if any Mind could have imagined a lobster
dozing in the under-deeps, then reaching out a savage and iron claw!

Even the mind of God can only imagine
those things that have become themselves:
bodies and presences, here and now, creatures with a foothold in creation
even if it is only a lobster on tiptoe.

Religion knows better than philosophy.
Religion knows that Jesus was never Jesus
till he was born from a womb, and ate soup and bread
and grew up, and became, in the wonder of creation, Jesus,
with a body and with needs, and a lovely spirit.

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