They say the devil fell because he could not imagine so monstrous a thing as God made flesh.
There’s something about particularity that offends us, too, throwing our hopes and daydreamed plans into a second remove from the world we walk in. Next year, after college, after grad school, once I get that job, once I meet him, after I finish that book, sometime between the cap-and-gown of this unattained accomplishment and the evening of my existence, my life will begin. No theater of human triumph, surely, this faded thrift-store table, this dusty shelf of half-read books, this dying houseplant and heap of unanswered letters.
All our tomorrows glitter with the old lie, the promise of impending revelation: an Elysium for our shadow-selves, sons of our fond delusion, far from the vexation of the present. Uneasy dwellers in approximation, we reject the troubling immediate, sidling into the haven of what may be. (As though it were hope, to despair of all our nows.)
We profess the Incarnation; and doubt that God may work (as He was born) between the ticks of the second hand.
It’s hard to face up to common things: to bear the weight of definition, the unspeakable marvel of the infinitely articulate Word. The charity of God, shining in familiar eyes—playing across faces that we know? Can it be? (A cry, from somewhere in space and time; the filth of a stable, the nail-dented hammer poised in a calloused hand. Can it be otherwise?) Not the vague ideal, tomorrow’s friend or insight or advantageous circumstance, but this: here, now, this brain, this body, this self and those nicknamed idiosyncrasies (annoying, sometimes, and hurtful; moody, and full of laughter) we call our fellow men. We are bombarded by the familiar, the terrifyingly particular, demanding no less of us than that we face it and find our God.
And mercy courses through all things. What but these hands and eyes and timespent words shall be avenues of grace and glory?
So He comes. So he redeems, not a dream—what we wish we were, and the world was; but us. So the eternal takes flesh again, in the stable of our worn-out souls, and sows our seconds with hope.
In His hands, at last, our Nows may be the mustard-seeds of an infinite tomorrow.