Mary's Song

  • By: Joni Eareckson Tada
  • Dec. 25, 2017
  • 0 Comments
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Mary's Song

For centuries, hundreds of artists have rendered classic paintings depicting Mary holding her baby. What could a contemporary artist possibly do that would be different? This was my exact question when, decades ago, Billy Graham asked me to render a “unique” painting of Mary and Jesus for his Christmas TV special. So, I started praying, reading through Scripture, and asking God how He would like His Son portrayed. And the Lord led me to this beautiful poem, “Mary’s Song,” by Luci Shaw that seemed to capture exactly what I wanted to paint. 

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest …
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by doves’ voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes,
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he is new.
Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
Keep warm this small hot naked star
Fallen to my arms. (Rest…
You who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfiesthe body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
Whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
Whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
No breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
To sprout a world. Charmed by doves’ voices,
The whisper of straw, he dreams,
Hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes,
He is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
All years. Older than eternity, now he is new.
Now native to earth as I am, nailedto my poor planet, caught
That I might be free, blind in my womb
To know my darkness ended,
Brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
And for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

That’s all the inspiration I needed! It was that part about “for Jesus to see me mended, I must see him… torn.” Somehow, someway I needed to show that this Baby was the one child born to die… die for us. I needed to connect the cradle of Christmas to the cross of Calvary. And so I began sketching — praying as I was drawing, and asking the Holy Spirit to lead me. And as I was filling in the knees of Mary, lying on her side, I realized… these look exactly like little hills! Hills leading to… I know… Calvary! And so I sketched three crosses on the most distant hill, like omens and foreshadowing of the cruel death this child would one day face. Because “for me to be newborn, I must see him torn.”

As Mary held her baby, did she know that she was holding the salvation of the world in her arms? Did she have an inkling of the suffering he would one day face? I’m not sure. But we do. And it’s because we know the great price Jesus paid for our salvation, that today we celebrate His birth. Friend, I hope this poem has inspired you as it did to me. Have a blessed, Merry Christmas!

 
 

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