The road to Bethlehem begins
darkness at the dawn of time. The Word
is God expressed, and when he speaks first
it is law—sacred equations that
Einstein and Bohr will one day climb
the Sinai of science to receive.
When he speaks next it is pure energy,
the birth of stuff, a blowout in the factory
of quarks and Higgses’ (and who knows who else’s) bosons,
a mess of mass spun into suns
and planets and at last Deoxyribonucleic acid,
the lovely Lego bricks of life. It's all good,
in a too-hot-to-touch, tumultuous kind of way,
but what he really means by it
is love, for that’s what God is made of,
nothing is loved at speed.
On the 4.8
thousand billionth day of creation (give or take)
something emerges that can look up to
the skies it came from and ask not only
how? but why? This is lovable, God knows,
but it is troubled and will one day die.
Space-time was born for entropy—
a context for compassion, the first act
of this great narrative of transformation—
and so he makes his entrance—having known
always that love would be embodied—as
beneath indifferent stars a pregnant girl
sets out along the road to Bethlehem.
What lay helpless in that stone feeding box
is not for comprehension: two
natures that cannot be reconciled
double paradox, that a free God
should be compelled by his own character
to do what an immortal cannot do
and die for his beloved. The road
from Bethlehem never went back to Eden:
this was no Plan B to renovate
a ruined theme park of perfection,
but the primary agenda of a Love
satisfied until it’s spent.
The road went on by way of Golgotha,
its shroud shed like a chrysalis to birth
a kingdom where lost shining things
are brought back into light. It goes on still
to revelation's hope
of earth and heaven renewed; and in between
the God-child and the King of Glory walks
his most unlikely incarnation—us,
his body now, in via dolorosa,
the Word made flesh, redeemed by love to love.
Written for the carol service
("Out of darkness") at
The phrase nothing is loved at speed is adapted from a prayer written by the cartoonist Michael Leunig. I have used it in another poem, and make no apology for using it again here as I know no better way of expressing this truth.
4.8 thousand billion is my approximation of the number of days from the Big Bang to the emergence of hominids on earth. If my arithmetic is dodgy please let me know.
Deoxyribonucleic Acid is DNA.
via dolorosa ("Way of Sorrows") is the road in Jerusalem along which Christ is said to have carried his cross to Golgotha.
Typical performance time: 2 minutes 30 seconds.