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.

Advertisement

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.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Youths attending a pre-synod meeting participate in the Way of the Cross at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome on March 23. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
The meeting of the Synod of Bishops on young people is an opportunity for an ongoing conversation between everyday lived experience and church teachings.
Michele DillonSeptember 21, 2018
Pope Francis ends his official visit to Vilnius on Sunday evening at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, housed in the former headquarters of the K.G.B.
Edward W. Schmidt, S.J.September 21, 2018
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he stay at home to remain with them during this "time of crisis" in the U.S. church.
Catholic News ServiceSeptember 21, 2018
Girls gather for celebrations marking the feast of the Assumption in August 2012 in Aglona, Latvia. Twenty-five years after St. John Paul II visited Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Pope Francis will make the same three-nation visit Sept. 22-25, stopping at a number of the same places as his saint-predecessor. (CNS photo/Ints Kalinins, Reuters)
He is the second pope to visit these Baltic nations. John Paul II came to the region in September 1993, after the collapse of communism, and was welcomed as a hero. Pope Francis comes exactly 25 years later, but much has changed since that first papal visit.
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 21, 2018