Monday, September 29, 2008

made flesh

“My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!”
-- Hamlet

The – LORD – GOD – Je – HO – VAH!”

She sings each syllable, alternating between two notes. I know, because I’ve studied such things, that the interval is a major second, like the first two notes of the scale. “Do – RE – RE – do – RE – RE!” She punctuates each note, each syllable, with a louder silence.

“IN – THE – be – GIN – ning – WAS – the – WORD.”

At the top of subway steps in Grand Central Station at morning rush, she is all I hear.

“AND – the – WORD – WAS – with – GOD.”

I pass her by, descending to a deeper ring of urban transport.

“AND – the – WORD – WAS – GOD.”
From the platform below I still hear her.

“AND – the – WORD – WAS – made – FLESH.”

There it is. Authenticity. She is what she claims to be. Refugee from the theatre, I recall language from studios of acting: She is not just telling, she is doing. She doesn’t just say that the word was made flesh. She is a Word Made Flesh.

The – WORD – WAS – made – FLESH – and – DWELT – a – MONG – US.”

I am witness to the power of the Incarnate Word. Her Flesh is given over to Her Word. Her blood and breath are timed to Her Word’s pulse. Her throat vibrates in mathematic passion, and my throat rises sympathetically. Machines scream and a hundred conversations scurry on their way, but what I hear is Her Word. This is not a liberal sermon with five logical points, later to be judged “interesting” and “stimulating” by parishioners. She does not interest me. She does not stimulate me. She seizes me.

“HE – was – IN – the – WORLD.”

In a hundred studios of drama in this city, acolytes make offerings to their gurus. They mortify themselves in worship of this very power to en-flesh the word. Two of them finish an exercise, and there is a silence for the space of half a minute.

“BUT – the – WORLD – KNEW – him – NOT.”

They are waiting for the guru to unseal his verdict. (The really clever guru prolongs the pain.) They are lost; they await the revelation. Was it true? Am I real? Does my “work” have authenticity? Am I talented? Do I have IT? Desperation feeds on the silence.

Let’s leave it there. If the word had been made flesh, it would have seized you all. You wouldn’t be waiting for the guru to tell you what happened.

That’s why Hamlet, the prince of failed actors, knowing his role but never bringing it off, talking talking of what’s to do, tormented by words words words that stop his thoughts, curses his thoughts until they shall learn the pulse of his body. If his thoughts are not now “bloody” they shall be worth nothing. Only at his end, too late and by accident, are his Words Incarnate.

“WE – have – SEEN – his – GLO – RY.”

That God became one of us is the Christian glory. That he grew in the bowels of a woman. Nascitur inter sanguinem et faeces et urinam. That he heard the pulse of her blood and the pedal point of her breath, syncopated by a slithering symphony of fluids and solids in passage toward the world. So did we all. And all of us, Yeshua included, were then expelled into silence. Perhaps it is not the sudden cold or bright light that bakes a baby cry. Perhaps it is the silence. Our bodies, abruptly orphaned, no longer purr to the music of creation.

His – GLO – RY, – FULL – of – GRACE – and – TRUTH.”

After expulsion, we do our best to compensate for dis-enfleshment. We seek grace in making love and art. We seek truth in reason, or veritas in the vine or pharmacy. We laugh, cry, sometimes pray. Sometimes we sing or dance, and for a moment remember.

We must learn from our Christian brothers what they so often deny – that God is in the flesh. God is Incarnate. Our eating and drinking, pissing and shitting, laughing and crying, belching and farting, singing and dancing, our compassion and our copulation – these are what God could not bear to be separated from.

“GRACE – and – TRUTH.”

I stand clear of the closing doors. They close. I am on my way to work.

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