When I was 10 years old, my dad would often interrupt our family devotions and begin speaking in this odd, rhapsodic way about the Incarnation. At the time I didn’t understand the connection between the mysterious thing he called the Incarnation and the boring Bible lesson we’d just been reading. Yet his reverent words took up residence in my memory. They became a sort of incantation, a spell he spoke over me that I could never figure out. I couldn’t escape the feeling that the Incarnation was somehow central to my existence. What did it mean that God took on flesh and dwelt among us?
Two decades later, I stood over my wife in a room full of highly specialized doctors and nurses. There must have been 17 people in this room. “It’s a party!” they all kept telling me. Most of the nurses in the room would never get to see something like this again.
For my wife, this was no party. She was sliced open, her abdomen retracted into a circular hole. Her body was a portal to transmit three brand-new souls into the world. I snuck a look at the first, continuing to watch as the doctor pulled two more babies out.
Eventually I looked over at my wife, who was stretched out in cruciform position on the operating table. Her arms were spread wide. Her face was separated from her body by a curtain that kept her from seeing those three newborns, those babies she carried—in rapidly increasing agony—over the preceding 35 weeks.
I can think of no image from my own life that so perfectly captures the mystery of incarnation. On one side of the room there are three beautiful and healthy boys, an image of the divine gift of life. On the other side my wife is lying down, pale and barely conscious. Over the ...1
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