A fellow blogger, C., wrote this:

“I look at my hands. His hands: thumbs and fingers, nails and palms.  As if for the first time, I see the necessity of the incarnation. That these hands might hold and carry even the faintest mark of some other commission, a family resemblance before Cain, before Adam even.”

She sees her hands, and sees his hands there, in bone, marrow, and flesh.   Already there, her father, my father, has created.  And fathers can bring with them the curse of the garden — work, worry, and pain.  Is this  how to read these lines by my friend?  I’m like the kid in the back of the class, sometimes inattentive, sometimes struck wide awake.  A truth in these lines startles, but also finds me flung into darkness.

There is the hope  that “these hands might hold and carry even the faintest mark of some other commission.”  I am one of those disgruntled with the commission bequeathed and expected by father of son.  I know these hands are my father’s. I wish they weren’t but how can that wish be other than self-disavowal? To avow them must be to feel in them the possibility of some other, less shameful commission — a commission I might embrace without shame, and in joy.

Can I find in them a “resemblance [to a a spirit] before Cain, before Adam”?  And is that need answered by the spiritual necessity (my necessity) of flesh descending from other than my flawed father’s hands?  Perhaps the incarnation, perhaps true Christmas, is the necessity for joy’s intervention in unblemished birth, the life-necessity to blot out (at least partially, at least in a saving moment) the shame and sin and despair of those crooked timbers.  Perhaps it is the necessity to see through those rough hands to a child’s sweet smile, innocence, the birth amidst ruins this December 25.

— evening here . . .  quiet . . . a sea breeze.


One comment on “Christmas

  1. dmfant says:

    I don’t yell. I don’t hold inside
    the day’s supply of frustrations.
    My hands stay open all day.
    I don’t wake tired and sore,
    dazed from senseless, panicking
    dreams. On the days I am not
    my father I hold my son
    when he cries, let him touch my face
    without flinching, lie down with him
    until he falls asleep, realize
    that just because he has a sharp tongue,
    just because he’s sometimes mean,
    just because he’s smarter than me
    doesn’t mean he’ll become my father.

    On the days I am not my father
    holding you is enough until
    holding you is no longer enough
    for either of us. I listen well.
    I let things go unfinished,
    in an order I didn’t plan.
    My mouth is relaxed. My teeth
    don’t hurt. My face stays
    a healthy shade of pink all day.
    On the days I am not my father
    I don’t fill the silence with my own
    irrational rants. I don’t resent
    the voices of others. I don’t make fun
    of you to make myself feel better.

    On the days I am not my father
    I don’t care who wins
    or loses. The news can’t ruin
    my day. I water plants.
    I cook. I laugh at myself.
    I can imagine living without
    my beard, with my hair cut,
    without the fear of looking
    too much like my father. On the days
    I am not my father I romp
    and play, I don’t compare myself
    with everyone else, the night
    is always long enough, I like
    how much I am like my father.

    “On The Days I Am Not My Father” by Scott Owens

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