December 27, 2006

The Center of Our World

It makes sense to me, Jesus
That people come home, go home for Christmas
It seems right that your birthday
Would be marked by a frenzied return to the familiar
Everywhere today are unsuspecting pilgrims
Making the holiday trek
—on rails, on tires, on wings—
All en route, back to the center of their lives, back home
Back to a place of hoped-for gravity
In an otherwise weightless world
Some find it, and there is joy
Some do not, so the search goes on

But whether these holiday hoards know it or not
—a matter of some theological debate—
All this traveling home seems a fitting party
For your fleshly advent among us
For from the start of your story
You were always at the center of things
You’ve continually made your bed among us
Right in our ranks

I remember my mother’s chalky-white nativity set
Its annual appearance on the dark marble hutch
The whole scene, a Green Stamp purchase
from some closeout season gone by

I remember
Your tiny little hands and feet
Formed in Plaster of Paris
Your manger
Cast from a sweat-shop mold like hundreds of others
Your many scene-mates
Each with made in hong kong affixed to their bottoms

And while it was my great delight
Often to rearrange shepherds and sages
—Joseph outside with bleating sheep
Oxen where only angels should trod—
I never dared moved you, Jesus
It never felt right

You always seemed to fit in the center of things
The sun of their orbit
Even as an infant
Already calling God’s chosen band to gather round
You, the smallest, most helpless, most needy of them all
Born a sacred irony: their Life and Love and Lord

So come again, dear Jesus
Take your rightful post at the center of our lives
Rearrange the oft-handled, mishandled pieces
Of our homes and hearts
Until each finds its proper place on the periphery
Encircling your new life

Come again, O Jesus
Be that blessed homecoming
At the end of all our wayward treks
Show us that weight of glory
That ballasts our wispy, worried world
Teach us to live in the shelter of your sanctuary
Until at last we are home with you for good
For this is who you are, baby Jesus—so small and so grand
The hub of our salvation
The core of our communion
The weight of our world

So take your place among us
Right here, where you most belong
At the center of our lives