A CHRISTMAS VISITATION

Down a broken gray road by slack-planked shacks and rusted, wrecked hope hulls the man trudged; blood spattered, bone weary, spat-upon and silent.  His pain dulled in the analgesic balm of weariness; he was ready to lay down his head for the last time.  All that might have been was lost.  All he feared, finally, had come.  Frightened love, itself, had fled.  And so it was with the man.  And so it was with the world.  This path was a cold dead-end.

This, the terminal mile, had been reached.  The last splinter of hope had been to find this place.  Now, there was no need to struggle to grasp it.  This, too, could be surrendered to the void.  To dust, the man could return.  He remembered who he was, too spent for weeping.  But his shriveled soul knew what it was to cry.

No gravity remained to pull him down.  Suspended in the absence of all energies, he let go of nothing, and nothing received him.  He was nothing.  There is nothing.  Presence and Being had faded away.

From this unknowing, unspeaking, unseeing darkness came a crackling, most faintly perceived.  A point of light burned.  There were footsteps.

He could not see.  He could not feel.  Yet something within himself awakened.  There was a Child.

Diminutive steps on a parchment of leaves.  Nearing the non-existent dust that was his identity.  Wanting to die, though possessing nothing of life to lose, he closed his eyes.  Yet, onward they came.

His heart had known gaiety in an earlier time, now coldly shut away.  But in those footsteps, he sensed an innocent glee.  An absence of burden.  The very essence of what he was not.

The Child said no words, but moved toward the man.  Would there be consciousness?  Any chance of interaction?  Surely there was nothing of this remaining; no capacity to be felt, to feel; to know…to be known. Yet, he knew this was a Child, someone other than him.  Thus, the man realized he continued to exist apart from this Other.  An unbidden revelation.

There sprang up in the man a will to see this Child.  To know something which had not lost its life force.  Why was the Child so near?

Just then, having drawn closer, the Child stretched out a hand.  Dimly, the man glimpsed only movement.  But, in this movement, there flowed the gentle kindness of a whispered prayer or lullaby.  The soft exhalations of a rocking mother’s breath upon her baby’s face.  A swirling eddy of leaves in the parting curtain of fall.  How could this be?

More clearly, he felt warmth and energy emanating from the broken gray road on which he now knew he lay.  Like glowing embers, the Child’s steps thawed the earth all around.  The man could feel it.

In this moment, a wind of sweeping sorrows grew within his soul.  The man became awakened to his failures, and had profound remorse which he had never allowed himself to feel.  Unfettered grief welled up.  He wept; though, strangely, no tears fell.  All was silent in these woods in which he lay.  The Child remained, but more than this.  The Child somehow became this agonizing sadness.  Unthinkably, the man’s sorrows lessened, and he sensed an increasing luminosity, as if suffering somehow brought forth the light.

The Child’s appearance, still partly hidden, became clearer to him now.  The face was near enough to touch.  The eyes shone forth as dark, burning coal.  But the burning was within the man’s own heart.  At that moment, the man felt a melding of his sorrows with a song.  It was a timeless song, both foreign and familiar, and it was coming from the still silent Child.  Or was the man singing this melody himself?  He did not know.  But the sorrow and the song smelled like rising smoke from a sweet wood fire.

Then, a sweeping dance of spiritual Presence moved from the Child outward to the man, and to everything in that place.  The man felt his burden of weariness and wounding being lifted, like leaves on a tendril of the north wind.  Long bound by chains of self-condemnation, he began to feel freedom and forgiveness.  An openness to what is.  A movement of energy and Essence from himself to another, and to the world.  This he felt, as he noticed his blood had rubbed off onto the Child’s hands.

And then, the rising.  The lifting of all within him which was very death itself into an up-welling of life and Love, one and the same as the Child’s own face.  A face framed in a gray, tree-etched sky, gushing forth into the man’s soul.

Reaching toward the broken man, the Child embraced him.  All of him.  And held him in that silent, cold and wooden sanctuary of wrecked hopes.  And the man grasped the Child.  And what he saw, and what he knew, was Love, enwrapping his wounded flesh like soft linen.  Mysteriously, in this eternal melding, the Child slowly seemed to fade, as in the initial appearing.  And the man, now kneeling to a Presence on the broken gray road of his re-born life, was left embracing himself.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1: 14      

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