Mother of Consolation: A meditation based on an icon by William Hart McNichols, S.J.

What you look hard at looks back hard at you.
As in this icon, where the child with the deer-
Brown eyes gazes at something just beyond your view,
This child king who spreads blessing everywhere.

Blood of his mother’s blood, bone of her bone.
Identical the mouth, the nose, the eyes.
You can see he is his mother’s son, and hers alone,
In any way one’s DNA supplies.

If too he is his Father’s Son, how can you know
But by what burns behind the gaze, or in
The innocence of blessing? And even then there’s no
Way to know until you touch the mystery within.

And for that you will have first to understand
What it is you gaze at with the same dim eyes
Too long glutted on the sensual, the bland,
The million million flyspecked buzzing lies.

The scrim of sight is dimmed with sick desire.
The Buddha knew this, and Blake, and Dante too.
How hard, O how very hard to re-ignite the fire,
The inner flame that lets us look upon these two,

These two whose gaze gives back peace again,
But only if we learn to turn the outward gaze into
The gaze within, the child’s eyes remembering the When,
The mother’s doe-brown eyes as she turns to gaze at you.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A dry fountains is seen in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on July 24. The Vatican says it is shutting off all its fountains, including those in St. Peter's Square, because of Italy's drought. (Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP)
Meteorologists say spring 2017 was Italy's third-driest in some 60 years. The drought has put Rome at risk for drastic water rationing, a measure being considered later this week by authorities.
APJuly 24, 2017
The parents of Charlie Gard dropped their legal bid Monday to send him to the United States for an experimental treatment after new medical tests showed that the window of opportunity to help him had closed.
Art by Andrew Zbihlyj
Having so often petitioned a gracious God for the blessing of mercy, how could I deny it to others?
Mark SingelJuly 24, 2017
“To the Bone,” which recently premiered on Netflix, tells the story of 20-year-old Ellen (Lily Collins), who is living with anorexia nervosa.
Karen RossJuly 21, 2017