(Virgin Mary Consoles Eve,
painted by Sister Grace Remington, OCSO, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey)
(In the tradition of my grandfather, who loved writing poems, I began writing Christmas poems. This was my first, inspired by the beautiful and weighty painting above.)
Head bowed in shame, the weight of every sin upon my narrow back.
My sticky fingerprints, fruit-stained, sin-stained, are on it all,
From the bombs that fall on Aleppo
To the machetes wielded in Rwanda
To the yellow stars pinned on Jewish coats.
Our holiness tarnished now, from my fingers.
Unkind words, selfish thoughts, pride.
Fear. Because I broke the perfect love.
I cannot meet your eyes.
I did not trust
So now none of us is trustworthy.
I did not worship
Now we all worship ourselves.
I ruined His world.
I see you standing there,
Large with promise.
The mercy in your eyes mirrors the Mercy in your womb
And you say
Sister. He is coming. Feel His kicks.
He will take it all. He will kill the snake that bites our heels.
His shoulders are broad and His fingerprints holy.
And the weight of sin on us all will fall on Him instead.
You cannot break Perfect Love.
It is breaking through