The National Catholic Review
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.

 


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.

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