Uncle Andrew and Uncle Will and Uncle Peach [Uncle Andrew's ne'er-do-well best friends and regular partners in shenanigans] passed and returned in her thoughts and her talk like orbiting planets. They divided her mind; they troubled her without end. She could see plainly what a relief it would have been if she could have talked some sense into their heads and straightened them out. It would have been a relief too if she could have waved them away and forgotten them. In fact, she could do neither. They were incorrigible, and they were her own. In their various ways and styles, they had worried and vexed and grieved her "nearly into the grave," as she would sometimes say. And they also charmed and amused and moved her. They were not correctable because of the way they were; they were not dismissible because of the way she was. She loved them not even in spite of the way they were, but just because she did. With them she enacted, as many mothers have done, and many fathers too, the parable of the lost sheep, who is to be sought and brought back without end, brought back into mind and into love without end, death no deterrent, futility no bar.Thus, Wendell Berry, A World Lost (Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 1996), p. 93.
Now my question is this: Has a theologian offered a better metanarrative for what God was doing in Christ, a better "back story" to the Incarnation? I would take some convincing, for it's all here: overwhelming love that roots not in the lovability of the loved one but in the the loving of the lover; prevenient grace that neither earned nor really explainable, except as mystery; the inability or refusal of Love to let go, regardless of the barrier.
While I find the entire passage almost painfully beautiful (a not-uncommon experience when one reads Berry), my favorit line may be this: She loved them not even in spite of the way they were, but just because she did. I think I'd find a way to fit this into a three-hour Good Friday service in reflecting on "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Father, forgive them -- not despite what they are doing, for they don't know what they are doing. Forgive them in trueness to yourself and ourselves.
And let the people say "Amen."