An Unimaginable Intimacy


One early morning not long ago I woke with a strange physical sense of myself as the product of eons, rather than my usual tired twenty-first-century self. In the period between dream and waking I had the sense of being the son of a son of a son.... And you can go on way back, to a period where our ancestors slept in dens around fires in winter breathing bone dust—even to a period before language. That particular morning I knew that I was here now because of millennia during which human beings were formed by cooperation and cannibalism, compassion and violence.

It is into this flesh that the Lord became incarnate, with all its mercies and horrors—a sign of complete and total compassion for what and who we are. The flesh assumed by Jesus is primordial and capable of so many wonders, and horrors.

The love shown in the Trinity and the Incarnation has to do not only with God’s love for humanity but with God’s love for all creation, for every atom of it. The love shown in the kenosis, the self-emptying of the Word become flesh (to combine Paul and John here), applies to all the universe. When we think of love, we think of what we can make of love as we have encountered it—paternal or fraternal love, the love of...

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About the Author

John Garvey is an Orthodox priest and columnist for Commonweal. His most recent book is Seeds of the Word: Orthodox Thinking on Other Religions.