(Deep at the bottom of this quote is the SLOW Word Lectio.)
I feel more at home in the roomy world of poetry. I can be bare and human. I penned this poem last March in the silence of my first spiritual direction residency when the words were bubbling up faster than I could catch them. That evening I found a friend in Mary who while bearing the gift of God-with-us, understood all too well that our waiting and even our painful laments enlarge us.
Eugene Peterson translates Romans 8:22-25 this way and it’s been preaching to me from books and mentors:
22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Praying with the Icon of the Sign: Emmanuel
She stands in orans, hands raised,
worshiping the one contained
in the round universe of her body.
She’s a pomegranate cut in half
revealing God as infant,
right hand raised in blessing.
She looks toward me placid
but inside a holy storm is brewing.
I wonder if His head
forced your womb high
against your lungs
making you gasp for air
as mine did me?
I wonder if He stretched your skin,
a hundred silver birch branches
grasping at the full moon
as mine did me?
And through each ascendant joy,
each searing grief,
the stretching magnified
expanding your heart for collected treasure.
What answer do you carry for me
an ordinary Christ-bearer,
who says a thousand quotidian yeses:
Will this stretching pain ever stop?
Perhaps it is the price
of this resplendent nearness.
I search for an answer
in her almond shaped eyes.
She looks at me
but only has eyes for Him.