the desert of human history, and even here, into the modern deserts we shape and inhabit, at a time when the poor and needy—their tongues parched with thirst—desperately seek life-sustaining waters, the Holy One pours out rivers and fountains. He places the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive along their banks, and he sets together the cypress, the plane, and the pine. He is with us in our poverty, and he is with us in our respite from it.
It is good to humbly realize that we are all of us poor, needy, and parched with thirst, just as it is a great relief to discover that he provides all we need and more. Witnessing the bounty and the beauty of his works, we are called to “see and know, [to] consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.”
Still, as we prepare our hearts and our homes to receive anew the Gift that supplies all need and more, we must consider and understand together that the deserts we inhabit are to be restored, that while this earth is a means of revelation, it is also more than that. It is an earth, a beautifully, lovingly shaped thing that speaks to us, even as it feeds us, shelters us, holds us up. By his entering our creaturely condition, he makes the stuff itself more worthy.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, we say, smiling. So long as we perceive the Word as a reference merely, a stick figure pointing to God, so long as we suppose that all our words are simply signs directing the mind to abstract circumstance, we fail to grasp the appalling, bodily, life-renewing fact of incarnation.
He is our help. He takes our hands into his own, and, if we will agree to it, he makes our hands into his own, so that we may become the very members of the Body we pray to be.