Willow Wonderings

God’s Living Imagination

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“If
you want,
the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy,
and say,

‘I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,
my time is so close.’

Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime

intimacy, the divine, the Christ
taking birth
forever,

as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us
is the midwife of God, each of us.

Yet there, under the dome of your being does creation
come into existence eternally, through your womb, dear pilgrim—
the sacred womb in your soul,

as God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is
His beloved servant
never far.

If you want, the Virgin will come walking
down the street pregnant
with Light and

sing …”

– St. John of the Cross

It is Christmas Eve, and I am sitting on the floor of my bedroom in Westminster, Maryland. Two thousand years have passed since the birth of Christ.

Today, I woke up with an iPod alarm clock, painted pictures for friends, ran around my neighborhood on cement streets, and spent a wonderful evening gathered with my family who had driven miles to meet at Grandma Betty’s house for our annual gift exchange. We traded dozens of hand-picked and wrapped presents with one another, played games, and shared a non-traditional Mexican/American dinner to celebrate Christmas, as we do every year. We talked about Santa landing on the roof with reindeer and shimmying through my cousin’s dryer vent to deliver presents this evening – as my young cousin Madilyn awaits his arrival.

The American imagination of Christmas today is a feast for the senses, as Santa brings warm woolen scarves, sparkling diamond earrings, and sugar frosted cookies to satisfy our wants and desires. We apply our imagination toward stories about the magic of a bearded man, resembling St. Nicholas, showering gifts to children across the world.

But somewhere, deep beneath the squeals of excitement and bouts of laughter, lives a spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by Santa. The holiday of Christmas is a difficult time for many families, as it marks the anniversaries of deaths, illness, less-than-perfect family gatherings. There is no guarantee that the right gift, the best sale, or the perfect recipe, grants contentment or healing at Christmas. When Christmas fails to meet our expectations, what gives us hope?

This may be one of the most hope-filled Youtube videos I have ever seen:

Tonight, the world receives the greatest gift one could ever imagine: the gift of the Christ child, born from the humility and grace of a Virgin’s womb.

Picture a young woman, perhaps around age thirteen, lying down in the dirt of an empty stable, yelling and screaming to birth a child who would be known as the Son of God. Imagine the goosebumps on her skin, the gladness in her belly as he witnessed his face for the first time. Imagine all of the children who were born across the world that night, and who will be born tonight, from a woman’s womb after nine long months of gestation. Each of these, Jesus proclaims, are God’s children – known and eternally loved by their Savior.

Now, as I write, it is Christmas day – and I have feel grateful and blessed by the Spirit’s presence in my family. My mother and I attended Christmas mass early this morning and during the service, I was reminded that Christmas is not just a historical event – it is a living reality. The Nativity story is more than just a legend or a tale – it is an experience of God’s presence in the flesh of the person Jesus, a name meaning “God saves.” Through the blessed womb of Mary, we encounter the holy mystery of God’s presence.

This, friends, is what brings me hope: tonight, as I walked into my house, I witnessed God’s living imagination. The constellations shone brilliantly through the coldness of the December sky – a view comparable to Mary’s when she gave praise to the heavens after birthing Jesus. The stars remind me that the Creator who wove together the planet, my body, and the body of Jesus, are one in the same. The Creator who birthed the Universe also lives in the womb of Mary whose voice echoes throughout the world on this night we remember her faith and humility. The God in whom I live, exist, and have my being is a creative intelligence within all things – singing to remind us that this life is precious, and beautiful, and must never be taken for granted.

The imagination of God is a wondrous, endless gift of creative possibility. Each Christmas gift is an opportunity to reflect the unconditional love of Christ – freely given, and freely received. Each conversation can embody the illimitable love of Jesus’ healing heart. Each morning waking begins a day that we may pray to enter into the imagination of God, write new stories, and find meaning through each finite moment.

I pray that we may we all find our place within the heart of God, and like Abraham and all his descendants, remember that though the stars are infinite, each one is created by God to shine light from the heavens. We, too, each hold a name and a purpose within God’s Kingdom – and by entering into Christ’s imagination, we are reborn in Mary’s womb as His instruments. What will bring justice to Earth? How can we all live with one another in mutual freedom and liberation? Who are we, and what is our truest purpose? These questions cannot be answered by our finite human minds, but through the Christmas story, we remember that we have one fundamental purpose: to be the midwives of God, birthing light into this world as we embody Christ’s love.

Let us look at the night sky and be forever humbled by this force of Life weaving us into one brilliant constellation.Let us rejoice and be glad on this Christmas eve – for a child has given us our true identity, a new imagination of love and justice, and an ever-holy mystery to praise. Thanks be to God for this day, and every day, in which we remember His miraculous birth. Amen.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

– Psalm 8

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