In my early years, the books I read were full of gods and heroes. As I grew up I learned that these gods and heroes represented important elements in the creation of a civilization.
It is the immortal desire of a people to discover the highest expressions of themselves and to do this evoke sets of values and conditions that offer contrasting ideas about themselves and everything around them. That separation is said to represent the fundamental concepts that produce a civilization.
For better or worse, the history of our civilizations has come down to the interplay between opposites. When God decided to do something with Earth he looked around and described it as ocean-covered and dark.
“Let there be light” was among his earliest commands that created day and night. That is also the first concept a child learns once the baby sees for the first time.
That is what Adam and Eve saw when they ate fruit from the tree of knowledge. After that the Garden of Eden was no longer the ideal place suspended in time and space.
Adam and Eve had discovered the world of contrasts and opposites beginning with the light of goodness and the darkness of evil. Their fall from grace ushered in a cruel reality that is the real world and the biblical beginning of a new civilization narrated in the Old Testament.
The Old Testament records an attempt by God to bring back the innocence of the beginning by destroying in a great flood the world Adam and Eve had initiated. The attempt did not work as once knowledge and free will was set loose and it took on a life of its own.
So he sent his “only begotten Son” to be born in humility as Baby Jesus dedicated to the renewal of the world. The manifestation of God in human form resulted in Jesus Christ becoming a classical metaphor with one foot in the hills and valleys of the Holy Land preaching the Gospel and the other as God offering salvation to believers.
It can be said that Mary is the mother of God as Jesus was born to her in the most simple of places. As the mother of God, Mary also became a metaphor as she stands between the world of her family and that of her son Jesus.
It is interesting that the Nicene Creed created in 325 CE did not allocate a person to the Holy Spirit as it did to the Father and the Son. That is perhaps because the role was unconsciously left to the feminine power of the Good Mother.
A few days ago, I attended a student Christmas presentation at an elementary school. There was a segment in the presentation when the nativity scene was assembled group by group so that in the end we had the little animals, the shepherds, the divine family and the three kings being celebrated by the rest of the students.
It was a moving moment that dramatized the ultimate intent of Christmas that is the offering redemption and new start in the person of those children and the innocence they carry in everything they do. Christ the metaphor and his mother the metaphor have gone to heaven and gave up their everyday form.
Yet, they come back to us in every year to offer what they originally offered in the tiny city of Bethlehem. And like Bethlehem, Christmas and the birth of Jesus are also suspended in time and space.