So he was born
    sometime, somewhere
    the details vary too much for me to sort them out.
On the day? Probably not.
The birthday belonged to a lot of people
    (or gods or whatever they were):
    Mithras. Sol Invinctus. Some others.
It was a great party, the Saturnalia.
And all the old gods were dead anyway,
    so why not claim it for the new guy?
I’d have done it.
I don’t blame them.

And Mary? Well, I’ve learned not to speculate
    about a woman’s virginity.
No one gains by it.
Even those who know
    get nostalgic for the mystery.
I say: Don’t ask. Don’t tell.
It’s better that way.

So he was born
    to teach, maybe.
To bring a new message to a world
    that was tired of trading eyes for eyes
    and teeth for teeth
    until the supply of eyes and teeth
    comes down to a more managable number
    (like zero).
Except that it wasn’t new, exactly.
Oh sure, the Golden Rule wasn’t as popular then
    as we hope it will be someday.
But Buddha knew it.
And Confucius.
Isaiah was close,
    and Hillel would get it any day now.
It was blowing in the wind in those days,
    like a dove
    ready to make its nest wherever it was welcome.
Maybe they’re still up there,
    the doves.
I wouldn’t know.
I haven’t looked. (Maybe I should.)

So he was born,
Born – they tell us – to be a sacrifice,
    which was also nothing new.
Gods have been sacrificing themselves for thousands of years.
(Ask anybody old enough to remember.)
It was before the Beginning
    in the Other World
    in the Dreamtime
    (and it’s still happening there now
        if you know where to look).
The ear comes from the grain
    that we sacrificed and buried in the Spring.
And that grain came from another ear
    and another grain
    back and back.
“But Grandfather, where did it start?
    the first grain, the first seed
    the first sacrifice.
A god.
He came and gave himself to be killed.
We buried him and on that spot
    the first corn grew.
Everyone knows this story:
    the Iroquois, the Celt, the Bushman.
A god sacrificed himself so that we might live.
Everyone knows it.

So he was born.
Born (perhaps) not knowing the story,
    but he must have learned it soon.
His people no longer told the story
       (in public),
    but they knew it.
Dionysus died and was torn apart
    and Tammuz and Osiris and Dimuzi.
The scatterings of divine flesh are everywhere.
We cannot help but eat and drink them.

He wasn’t dumb; he knew it.
But he knew something else,
    something that wasn’t in the story
    something we didn’t talk about (and don’t):
We’re still hungry.
We eat the grain, the bread, the beer, the wine
    — Dimuzi, Dionysus, and all their friends —
    and we’re still hungry.
Because we can’t live by bread alone.

Maybe they could once
    long ago in that other place.
Maybe the grain was more potent then,
    closer to the god who gave birth to it.
Maybe they ate and were satisfied.
Completely. Totally.
    Not even remembering what it was like to be hungry.
Or maybe not.
Maybe people have always been hungry.
Maybe they just didn’t talk about it
    or write it down in their sacred books.
Maybe their hunger was like water to fish or air to a bird:
    omnipresent, but invisible.
If they saw it, they would see nothing else.

He saw it.
He went out into the desert,
    and after forty days he was so hungry
    he wanted to turn the stones into bread.
But then he saw it:
    saw that it wouldn’t have worked,
    eating that mountain of bread in the desert.
Even then he would still be hungry.
(Is that why he fed them?
Is that why he sacrificed those loaves and fishes
    to make them a feast?
So that they could fill their bellies and know
    once and for all
    that they were hungry?)

Hungry for what?
That was the question.
For words? No.
For words from the mouth of God.
For words that were like the grain
    that a sower sows.
For words that were there in the Beginning,
    that could become flesh
    and dwell among us.
It’s a simple equation:
    Christ equals Word;
    Word equals Seed;
    Seed equals Sacrifice.
The Grain Lord dies
    and his body is made into bread,
    so that divinity may grow inside all who eat.

Hungry for what?
He knew then, in the desert.
He knew the story,
    and felt the hunger,
    and knew what was needed.
It was a grain, a seed, a word, a piece of divinity,
    a sacrifice
    that could multiply to feed the world.
If someone would start the cycle.
A god.

So he was born.

Doug Muder
December, 2001