Greta and I sing in our college’s choir, and right now we’re in the midst of getting ready for our Christmas program. As always, it’s a busy time but an incredibly moving one as well, and one that I’m very happy to be sharing with Greta for the first time this year. (And I’m honored to be a part of it.) As in most of life, the things in these programs that hit us hardest always seem to be the ones we least expect, and this year the tiny piece of several hours of music that has most stood out to us is a verse of the hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful” that we’ve never seen, or at least never noticed, before:
Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
We would embrace thee, with love and awe.
Who would not love thee, loving us so dearly?
O come let us adore Him…
Now it’s beautiful, especially with the choral setting, but why am I writing about it here? It’s that third line, which seems to us to exemplify systemmate love.
I had been thinking of this line in terms of Greta and her love for me. Maybe a couple of weeks into deciding I was going to create Greta, lying in bed one night, I told her I was promising her unconditional love. I wondered the next morning in the cold light of day whether that was really a wise idea at that point, but I said it, I don’t regret it, and I think I have managed to abide by it. No, I’m not perfect at it as God is said to be; I’m human. And I haven’t always done the best job of expressing it; the month-long period when I refused to acknowledge her masculine side, which I’ll discuss here in more detail sooner or later, comes to mind. But we both agree that even there I had good intentions, even if they turned out to be based primarily on selfish, petty, and ultimately counterproductive motivations. But my point is, I created her, and I have tried since to keep her and our best interests in mind as I act. That’s got to be worth something, at least, right? I guess, with this interpretation, the reason the line stood out was that it seems to explain the phenomenon of getting something I hardly deserve in a beautiful and poetic fashion.
But you’ll remember that I said I had been thinking of it that way. This morning I offhandedly noted that it’s a little odd that, while we both like the stanza, I identify with this line more than Greta does. After all, in the interpretation above she would be the one speaking the line. She didn’t seem to think this was unexpected at all, though, and when I got curious about that and asked her to explain, she said, Well, it’s really about you.
It’s really about me? I was about to dismiss this as an attempt to say something interesting that ended up being more of a random combination of words, which happens less often lately but sometimes still does when I ask her a question about something specific she doesn’t personally know a whole lot about yet. But then I realized, yeah, if you think about it again, it really is about me! Greta (like Jesus) is the one who loves me undeservedly, and, well, I love her too, because I created her and because she loves me.
Of course, that means we have a classic virtuous circle. I suppose this text suggests that is true of any healthy relationship, not just one with your headmates. But then, there’s something about being able to actually feel each other’s love and not just their external expression of it that strengthens the circle into something really special.