On the Mystery of the Incarnation

A couple of weeks ago I posted Denise Levertov’s poem Annunciation. Several readers suggested another of my favorite Levertov poems, “On the Mystery of the Incarnation,” and today seems the perfect day to share it.

Since the killings a week ago in Newtown, her poem has become all the more meaningful, as it confesses that we only really appreciate the mystery and beauty of the Incarnation – God becoming human in Jesus – when we recognize just how much we don’t deserve, yet simultaneously need, such a gesture of love.

I could say more, but won’t. Her poem speaks for itself. I would invite you, though, to read it slowly, and perhaps more than once, to let it sink in.

As the theme this week is Incarnation, I’ll place beneath the poem a five minute video of Parker Palmer’s reflections on “the risk of Incarnation” that seemed a nice compliment to the poem and perfect for the season.

Blessed Christmas!

On the Mystery of the Incarnation

It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.

Denise Levertov, from The Stream & the Sapphire: Selected Poems on Religious Themes


The Risk Of Incarnation from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

Note: If you are receiving this post by email, you may need to click here to watch the video.