Falling Forward this Christmas


I gave this print as a Christmas gift to my Healing Care Group Sunday night. We sat around the kitchen table at the Cathedral’s retreat house eating a spinach pizza and looking at the drawing. We took turns remarking on the details conceived by the Trappist nun who colored it. This year my group is full of teachers. One recognized Mary’s gesture. “I do this with my four year olds all the time,” she showed us with her hand open in front of her. “I rest my hand under their chin and invite them to look into my eyes before I speak.”


Intimate connection creates space for heart transformation. It’s at the heart of spiritual direction. It’s at the heart of healing ministry. It’s at the heart of the gospel.


Simone Weil wisely said, “Attention is the rarest and purest act of generosity.” 


I can’t stop thinking about Eve’s lowered eyes or Mary’s hand resting beside Eve’s cheek. It’s shockingly tender. Motherly. Mary full of God steps on the snake coiled around Eve’s leg. She traps it. Contains death’s design. The Presence of the baby Mary is enlarged with is already reversing the curse. They stand together under an arbor of sorts, heavy with fruit. Is it a nod to the garden? Is it acknowledging that for this framed moment as Jesus fills space and time, heaven has come down?


All I know is that the air is heavy with redemption.


It’s tangible presence, this drawing near. Mary has crossed over the chasm of Eve’s separation. But the sin she’s still cherishing does not wipe out her value. She was created in the image of God. Mary’s hand gently pulls Eve’s hand to her belly to touch the growing God-seed: Your story is not over. Your redemption is here. Mary intentionally draws shame towards Life.  I wonder how often I push shame away unwilling to take the time needed to build trust so that lowered eyes begin to lift, a hand can unclench?



I wonder how often I push away instead of falling forward when my love is stiff-armed?


I think about my master closet full of brown boxes from Amazon ready to be wrapped with the red polka dot paper. I think about the full list, the errands, the days of scurrying from place to place. This image slows me down. It reminds me to sit on the floor with Maggie playing with the doctor kit we’re wrapping up. It reminds me to wrap in my arms those in my family circle who it’s easier to pass by. It reminds me to keep offering small seeds of redemption.


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