calm milk

by Zach Kincaid
Long ago Sarah laughed. Her furrowed womb would finally be full, a miracle to outdo the stars. Every part of her flesh came alive. God teemed her breasts with buckets of milk. One telling of the story says that Sarah gave milk not only to Isaac but to all the children in the Abrahamic entourage - passing on sustenance where there was once nothing.

So it is – Sarah, mother - Abraham, father - of many nations.

Drawing milk to secure life is not forgotten in exile. It pressed up the taunting thorax of mountains who teased Moses with anticipation for the other side - the wet Jordan River that he'd never cross. Here, Joshua and all Israel anxiously licked her lips for the land ripe with milk and honey.

Later, when judges ruled Israel, the tenderness of warm milk became a weapon. It allured the wicked Sisera into a deep tired sleep which gave Jael the occasion to drive a stake through his temple. The arm of Israel gained strength that day.

And as Judah's eyes were white as milk so too the lover of Solomon's verse and the captured in Isaiah's vision -
You will drink the milk of nations 

and be nursed at royal breasts. 

Then you will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior,

your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
When an innocent teenager turns the corner and robes as the blessed virgin, the nourishment that God gifted to Sarah finds paradox. Empty and tired from the journey down Rahab's sash and into the confines of a womb, the infant Jesus exits in the violence of birth and first breaths, gasping for air. Sticky and blind from the light of new stars, he roots, dotting his mother's breast until she helps him to find her calm milk.

The baggage of enlightened reason often tames such myth. Call up none of that now. The earliest followers set Jesus in this one celebrated act. It is here where the stars bent down and illuminated the transaction of creator and created, image of God and image of humanity, feeding each other in a nuzzling embrace that collapsed heaven with earth, only weaned when the mountains drip new wine and the hills flow with new milk - down the road at the inn that hosts the end of days.

(Pictured is the earliest representation of Mary with the infant Jesus at her breast. From the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome, dating from the beginning of the third century C.E.)