Tag Archives: trust

Broken Baby Jesus

by Howard Hain

(Editorial note: This post was originally published on December 24, 2011.)

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We have not put up a tree in years.

For nearly a decade we have been moving—no longer than two years in any one house and no less than ten different not-so-humble abodes. Between and during the moves we were very much engaged with the world. A seemingly endless movable beast.

This December marks one year in our current house. I am happy to say it is our home. The Lord has blessed us with great peace. And with that peace comes a tree. A simple, well-shaped tree. Fittingly, a dear friend offered it to us as a gift.

Francesca could not be more ready to be initiated into the act of trimming. Before the tree arrived, her two-year-old fingers pointed out every tree, artificial or real, that graced the pages of a holiday flyer or the commercial floor of a Rite Aid or Dollar Store.

Up the stairs came the evergreen, into the old stand that has been in storage since my father last used it several decades ago. I cut off the mesh and out popped the branches.

We hung the lights and old glass ornaments that my mother-in-law washed a few days before.

The main attraction for Francesca was the Nativity.

Not since St. Francis of Assisi assembled the first Nativity in Greccio in 1223, has there been such admiration for each and every witness who Our Lord assembled to adore His Son that first Christmas two millennia ago. Francesca kissed and hugged every shepherd, sheep, donkey, angel and king. Most of all she adored the Holy family, calling Mary and Joseph, Ma-ma and Da-da, respectively. And Jesus, He was simply called: “ba-be.”

She carried them around the apartment. I did not want to ruin her fun, but they are ceramic. I explained a few times to be very careful.

“Gentle, Francesca…gentle…”, I harked a host of times.

Boom. To the wood floor went the shepherd. Amazing, grace held him intact. I took that as a great sign to put an end to her carrying the animals, angels and representatives of mankind.

I was fixing my coffee when I turned to see Francesca with Baby Jesus in her tiny hands. But He is so small, so tiny, what harm could come from holding Him? So I let her get away with carrying the Savior.

As I stirred my spoon Christ crashed to the floor, the tile floor. Francesca immediately looked at me, as if expecting all hell to break loose. I think I sighed but that was about all. It is Christmas, right? And it is, after all, only a ceramic figure purchased at Target.

After assuring Francesca not to worry and guiding her toward a few coloring books in the living room, I bent down to retrieve the broken Christ.

———

St. Francis was told by a Crucifix in an old abandoned chapel: “Restore my Church.”

In my small one-bedroom apartment, I found Baby Christ, broken into exactly three: The Head, the Torso, and the Crossed Legs.

“Restore the Trinity,” was spoken to me.

———

For half of my forty years I can honestly say I have tried to pursue Truth, wherever it lie. In philosophy, in scripture, in literature, in art, in nature, in history…

Now, the entire Gospel of Christ lie naked on my kitchen floor.

We separate, we distinguish, we categorize, we breakdown. The Fall of Adam was a fall into denomination.

Christ’s body is One. His Church cannot be broken. Only mere men can get things so wrong.

I think of the great “Angelic Doctor” of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, who after spending a lifetime in unparalleled pursuit of human understanding, said after glimpsing a vision of what Our Lord has in store for those who love God:

“All that I have written seems like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me.”

Yes… “straw”…my brother Thomas…merely straw. Straw that lines the manger within which Our Savior is laid bare.

———

It is tradition to leave the crib empty until Christmas morning. Only then do we place the figurative baby Jesus into the scene, after all until that moment he was not yet brought forth from Mother Mary’s womb.

This Christmas morning I will glue together a Broken Baby Christ. The Head, the Torso, and the Crossed Legs will again be One.

Like the world after the birth of Christ, I will never be the same.

For what has now been revealed to me, no fall can break apart.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

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Posture of Prayer

by Howard Hain
el_greco_st_dominic_in_prayer-1595

El Greco, “St. Dominic Praying”, c. 1588

Sometimes just showing up is all we can do.

To put ourselves in position to pray and worship—at least physically, even if we just cannot seem to get there spiritually—is an act of prayer and worship in itself. And quite often, it is the best we have to offer.

By confessing our aridity through physical obedience alone, we approach God’s altar with humility, for we come to God in our “nothingness”.

The bowing of head, the placement of knees, and the closing of eyes return us to the dark warmth of the womb. It is no coincidence that the posture of prayer and the fetal position bear great semblance.

It is in the womb that we are closest to God, furthest from the corruption of the world, and possess the least of what our “flesh” considers of value—our “brilliant” ideas, our “magnificent” plans, our “heroic” acts—our self-aggrandizement.

It is in the womb that we find ourselves in complete dependence. We receive all we need without knowing, without speaking, without cost.

In that sense, being in the womb is much the same as being in the world—for in the world we are still completely dependent—it is just that without the obvious reminder of the umbilical cord, we so easily forget our total and complete dependence on God, our Creator, our Sustainer, and our Ultimate End.

Hence we find ourselves “knowing,” “telling,” and “paying a price.” When in reality, the only thing that we can somewhat even come close to taking credit for is being physically present to receive His Word, His Wisdom, and His Will. All of which come free of charge, His Son having already paid the price.

———

“Lord, let me place my knees to the earth. Let me feel the foot of the cross against the caps of my knees. Let me close my eyes and bow my head. Let my brow lay upon your bloodied feet. Let me humbly raise my eyes to gaze upon your battered body. Oh my Lord and my God, let your blood and water rain down upon me.”

Amen.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber, or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

Sure and Steady

by Howard Hain
jusepe-josc3a9-de-ribera-tightrope-walkers-1634

Jusepe (Jose) de Ribera, “Tightrope Walkers”, 1634


 

The brighter the light the more we squint.

The closer we get the less we see.

And if we stare we go blind.

Now what?

You have to trust.

In what?

Not in yourselves.

In total darkness the answer is clear.

All other ways disappear.

Close your eyes.

Shutter your ears.

Forget the past.

Ignore what is below.

Chin slightly elevated.

Now walk.

No need to go too slow.

Sure and steady.

Heart on the goal.

And if we slip?

Don’t worry.

I made the rope.

I hold it tight.

My Son is “the way and the truth and the life”.

In Him you never fall.

In Him you know.

In Him you live.

He walks before you.

You may not see Him but He is there.

Follow close behind.

It is a tight walk.

That’s why I gave Him a pole.

I gave you one too.

And because it can get very dark.

I made them easy to identify.

They are made of thick dead wood.

Your hands know their splinters and knots.

Hold tight.

Say thank You.

Kiss in the dark what you cannot see.

For that old piece of wood.

Will get you across the gorge.

Where on the other side.

It will be planted.

Grafted into the Tree of Life.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber, or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

Friday Thoughts: A Common Question

by Howard Hain

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Does it make any sense to ask “why” but not want to know why?

It depends on how we see an answer. For there is one answer that applies to each and every question, that fully satisfies each and every query—one certainty that fully answers all wonderings.

All other answers—true although they may be—are subordinate to this one primary and exhaustive answer.

And this one answer has many expressions, but only one meaning. It has several names, but only one significance. It has billions of manifestations, but only one divine presence.

The answer is “I AM”…

The answer is “Truth”…

The answer is “Pure Existence”…

And on and on….

But let us express it one additional way: “The Perfect Will of God”.

If we believe this—if we believe in God we must believe this—then we have no questions to ask. Unless of course we ask for a different reason—a reason other than wanting an answer. And what may that reason be?

To experience God.

To “know” He is real.

To feel He cares.

———

For does an infant question his mother’s love?

Does he wonder if she will offer her breast?

Does he ask any questions at all?

No. He cries.

He prays with utter faith to a power beyond his capacity to wonder why.

For the newborn “knows” why.

The infant “knows” he is loved.

Yet he cries.

———

And we do too. We cry “why” to a God who knows our every need and has preordained our every righteous desire.

We pray like infants—like newborn children—when we ask our all-knowing and all-caring God a question we instinctively “know” is already forever answered.

We pray when we cry out loud in the direction of Him whom we believe exists—no matter the form of the cry.

For prayer is active believing. Asking is simply a common language.

Either way, the translation is the same.

———

“Why Lord?” (I believe in You)

“Why God?” (I trust in You)

“Why, Lord, why? (I love You)

———

And God always answers.

He always nurses.

More faith…more hope…more love.


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Friday Thoughts: Can’t Be Afraid

by Howard Hain


 

No matter what it is. All good options are on the table. All goodness is on the table. For God sets a banquet before us, a great breakfast. Liberty first. We must be free. Drink deep of letting go of the past, repentance is not an aftertaste. Repentance sets the table. A table held in place by belief. Upon which God’s goodness gives life. It is always about life. More of it. More letting go, less picking up the scraps. Of course, if scraps are all we have, by all means let us be grateful. But I have a sneaky suspicion there’s a whole lot more—if only we’d tell “fear” to take a hike—and then take our proper place at the table.

So much goodness is in store.

 


 

 

Morning Thoughts: The Substance Of Prayer

by Howard Hain

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How do we know if our prayer is answered?

When we no longer remember what we requested. When we discoverer inexplicable peace and experience inexplicable joy—even though we ride a hot, crowded, slow-moving subway car and have no idea if the specific circumstances surrounding our lives have changed in the least.

We know God is real, His will is perfect, and He never abandons us. We know we don’t need to understand. We know that somehow the peace and joy within us are actually related to our lack of understanding. We trust. We believe. We know “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” *

We know we’ve been blessed.

We know our faith has increased.

We know God has answered our prayer.


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* Hebrews 11:1

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Morning Thoughts: To All Gathered in Thought and Prayer

by Howard Hain

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Jesus Christ is Real.

He is not made of wood or ink or paint. He is not a distant figure from a distant past. He is here. We gather in His name—He is here. He is as real as each one of us. He is what makes each one of us real.

The message is simple:

He is the Son of God. He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. He is Love. He is Forgiveness. He is Humility. He is Boldness and Obedience.

He is Lord. He is God. He is Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

He is Christ Jesus, and He is Real.

I see Him now in each of you. I say to Him, I say to you: “I love You, my Lord and my God.”

Now, let us go and tell others…

 

egon schiele conversion

Egon Schiele, “Conversion” (1912)

 

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

— Matthew 28:20

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