Our firstborn son came into the world seven years ago with red hair, blue eyes and keen perception. We discovered this early on.
We’d be out for a walk and Jonah would start pointing and saying, “Woof, woof, woof!” (i.e., “Mama, Dada, over there, a doggie!”). We wouldn’t see a dog anywhere, but he never lost his resolve. “Woof, woof, woof!” And sure enough, six, maybe seven blocks up, off in the distance we would see it: a big black poodle, or a cream-colored golden retriever. He was right every time. We were the ones without eyes to see.
Breast-feeding is quiet and holy work—rocking, comforting, studying each other’s face and skin-to-skin bonding. When it goes well (and God knows, it doesn’t always go well!) nursing is a sweet and beautiful thing. It’s sweeter than honey, the psalmist might say, sweeter than the drippings of the honeycomb.
The ancient church fathers struggled with the physical implications of the incarnation—the mother’s womb, the birth and afterbirth. God gets a human body, orthodoxy has always proclaimed: a human body rife with bacteria, hormones and phlegm. Tertullian insists that God became fully human, though he recounts the details with some distaste.
He was not the young man they had known before. They were sizing him up, as people in small towns will do, when he stood up in the synagogue to read from the prophet Isaiah. He read a fantastic and otherworldly passage, plainly not about Nazareth, but about some other place. And then he startled them all: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Was he talking about them? Or himself? And what did he mean by proclaiming right there, in his hometown, “the acceptable year of the Lord”?