"This incarnate living for the Christian becomes important because it has radical and important implications for everyday living. It is not that Christians, by virtue of their baptism, ought to exalt themselves over all other people, or to have such a superior self-understanding that they despise all other human beings, especially those who are not baptized. On the contrary, the Christian understands that there is a special mission of manifesting the divine life in the area of worldly existence. Just as Jesus ministered to the sick, the friendless, and the needy, so ought the baptized Christian minister to the entire world as an extension or manifestation of divine life in the world. Incarnate living demands that Christians manifest the divine life of which they are a part in their daily thoughts and life."
--Richard Valantasis, "Centuries of Holiness: Ancient Spirituality Refracted for a Postmodern Age"
It simply is not Northeast Missouri if there isn't at least ONE snowstorm after the calendar decrees it is the first day of spring. We didn't get through the first week of spring until we got it!
I had literally just 48 hours before, taken some wonderful pictures of my crocuses in the yard. Two days later, I snapped this picture. Now, we didn't get much snow, but it certainly was enough to remind us that spring is, indeed, a fickle proposition in these parts.
I have to confess, it really wasn't until I became a part of the Episcopal Church that I ever really thought much about "incarnation." So many of us who come from a different church tradition, are steeped in what is mostly a 19th century distillation of what people came to ponder as "original sin." But what we realize is that in the very beginnings of the church, it was more about incarnation. These traditions carry on in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, mostly, but various forms of catholicism, both Roman and Anglican, still carry threads of it, despite several eras where "penitence" was more important. Other forms of Protestantism carry it too, but at least in my mind it is rather well-hidden.
But it is a fairly new proposition for me to feel my own incarnation and behave as a result of its nudgings, rather than react to my sin and guilt and shame nudgings. What I can say is it turns one's spirituality upside down.
I look at it like this: By virtue of Christ's baptism, all of us are bound to a common incarnate spirit--even those who are not baptized. I say this because of my crocuses here. I have never purposefully watered my crocuses a day in my life. Yet nature finds water for them. I trust in nature to deal with it, (Mother Nature is a bit on the fickle side at the moment about watering them, frankly, but she HAS done her duty) and don't worry myself much about it; yet I get to live in the enjoyment of all their splendor.
As I switch gears and think of my crocuses as little snippets of incarnation in their own world, what I love about them is their "attitude." Crocuses come up when nature's alarm clock says "Wake up!" They really don't vary much in terms of ground temperature or moisture. Oh, maybe a little, but when one lives at the same house for a number of years, one discovers at most, crocuses only vary a week or two in when they bloom. That seems less so for things like daffodils and tulips. I've had tulips take painfully long to come out.
They wake up and push themselves to the great outdoors in a huge variety of weather. Sun, wind, sleet, snow, wet, dry, warm, cool--they just don't care. They are here. They poke their noses through a couple of inches of snow, look around, and say, "What's the problem here?"
That is kind of how I see my temporal self's duty to my incarnate self. So many things in our world touch our incarnation--most of them related to the snow and sleet of a broken world--things like hunger, poverty, sickness, abuse, sanitation, and stewardship of the world's resources. As "spiritual crocuses," we are called to create a spot of beauty in the storms of the world. Crocuses don't look around and say whether or not the ground deserves them. They just bloom and create life and beauty in a tiny spot. They are a corner of light in a dark world.
But if there are enough crocuses, a brown place in the flowerbed becomes a pond of color that can be seen at a distance. More crocuses can turn the pond into a lake. Still more turn a lake into a sea. Yet each crocus is only responsible for a tiny, tiny bit of that whole area.
Our incarnation doesn't demand we fix the whole world. It simply demands we fix the spot where we are rooted.