I should like to build a world and compose a story for it—call it a work of “high fantasy”—and I want that story to echo and honor the story of the Incarnation. But, instead of the Kingdom of Heaven, my world will have the Kingdom of the Deep. The angels of my world shall have an ethereality of root and stone; good riddance to those precious and positively wretched cherubs with wings and harps and spotless robes!
Immanuel shall come not from the far-off sky but from deep within the heart of being. Out of the earth, out of the dust, out of the life-breathed soil, Christ shall spring, having dwelt in the womb of a hungry world. He will call us to transcendence, but transcendence will not be a skyward escape. It will be a return to the ground, to our Ground.
Well. The best works of fantasy speak not to what doesn’t exist, but to what does. I think that the real Kingdom of Heaven is a Kingdom of the Deep, and what we symbolize as lofty-in-the-sky is also rumbling-in-the-earth. To think that we should call our savior, “God with Us!” or pontificate about the “glory of the mystery that is Christ in us,” and nonetheless act and pray as if we are mere strangers in this good world, longing for a god who cannot meet us where we are, a god trapped by a tawdry transcendence of distance.
I shall have no such god for myself. For, if I do, I fear I shall spend my whole life pointing and screaming at the sky: a pharisee of the air waiting for the out-there god and missing the theophany all around me. I shall be blind because I say I see.
But, meanwhile, the Immortal Spirit of the Living God shall still dwell in all things, and no height or breadth or length or depth shall separate me from the love I breathe by my own being: I shall just fail to notice. If only I would notice! If only I would trust! Then I might see that this whole earth is the summit of Mount Tabor, and that the glory of the One who is, was, and will be is everywhere, and endlessly transfigured in subtle light.
The Advent of the Deep Kingdom transpires around me. God, give me eyes to see it.
Aidan Stoddart ’21 is a junior in Eliot House studying Comparative Religion.