When we think of the idea of brooding we tend to think of images like Achilles brooding in his tent beneath the walls of Troy or of Abraham Lincoln and his well attested melancholic brooding through the White House during America’s Civil War. When used as an adjective this is a very apt definition, but it is not the only. In fact Farmers know of a different, fuller and richer definition by looking at the way a hen broods over her precious and utterly defenseless chicks, anxious and fierce. This is the word used as a verb. Now Jesus Christ is described in many different ways both symbolic and descriptive but a description that is used only once Conveys a sense of Jesus Christ’s human nature as it is mingled with the divine aspects of his being in way unlike any other. Jesus Christ is indeed very like a mother hen, brooding over his precious children.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,
how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her
chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
Have you ever seen a mother hen gathering her wayward chicks under her wing? So it is with Jesus Christ, and we the chicks scamper about never knowing the dangers we face when outside of that protection. The chick that is lost to the roaming hawk is the chick who wandered away from the wing.
But there is still another way to use the word brood. Have you ever seen a large Specter haunted house sitting on a hill top, one that seems to fill up all the horizon, often seemingly larger than its actual size? We might say such a house broods on the hilltop. So it is with Jesus Christ to the faithful. Externally Jesus broods over his children like a mother hen, but internally, through the Holy Spirit his presence comes to brood over our whole being, taking up real space within us. This is why so many mystics and indeed any one of the faith in times of deep inner turmoil and crisis are prone to fits of melancholy. It is in these moments of deepest despair that we are most diminished. And in being diminished many parts of who we are and what we think we want are displaced. And though Jesus Christ fills up that void if we let him it cannot be denied that we pay a great price in ourselves for what we lose to make room for his presence. As it is said in Hebrews, and I wholeheartedly agree, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. But how much more fearful is it to have that Living God fall into your innermost being.
1: What Bible passages suggest melancholy or a brooding nature?
2: How did the different disciples respond to moments of inner turmoil?