Small fragments, big picture

Over the past ten days a picture of the nativity has been emerging online unlike any I have ever seen.  As the natwivity story has unfolded a new picture of the key players has emerged.  Like the mosaic on the ceiling in the cathedral of St Sava, Belgrade, below – it is made up of lots of tiny fragments. As in the mosaic, they are all different colours too.  Some carry the deep colours of theological authenticity.  Others have the vibrant, zany colours of twenty-first century humour. Some are profound, whilst others are just witty. Between them, however, they are creating a picture of extraordinary brightness and vitality.  As a previous poll is revealing -reactions  to the story have been as varied as the participants themselves.



As I was reflecting on all this, I came across Jane Kenyon’s telling poem ‘Mosaic of the nativity’ written in Serbia in the Winter of 1993.  I reproduce it below.

On the domed ceiling God
is thinking:
I made them my joy,
and everything else I created
I made to bless them.
But see what they do!
I know their hearts
and arguments:

“We’re descended from
Cain. Evil is nothing new,
so what does it matter now
if we shell the infirmary,
and the well where the fearful
and rash alike must
come for water?”

God thinks Mary into being.
Suspended at the apogee
of the golden dome,
she curls in a brown pod,
and inside her mind
of Christ, cloaked in blood,
lodges and begins to grow.