In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”….
And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”….
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1 vs. 26-31, 34-35, 38 the New Oxford Annotated Bible
At sometime in our lives, we are struck by some thing that stops us in our tracks: an illness, the death of a loved one, or a societal event that threatens to shake the very core of our world. All of a sudden we realize the system that knew and lived in has been altered so radically that we cannot respond as we once did. We, and the system we have grown so comfortable in, are way out of sync.
We can no longer be who we were; we are at a crossroads.
Depression, fear, and anger can easily set in at this time if we try to resist the need to change in response to our new circumstances.
What direction do we take? Do we engage in fear-based obedience simply to follow the tribe, even if conforming means going against our values so that we avoid possible ostracism and alienation? Do we act out our fears in angry, possibly violent outbursts, causing even more unrest; or do we follow the path that is hidden in mystery, relying on our faith and a power greater than ourselves to guide us as we move forward in love and compassion.
In order to discern the right course for us to take it is imperative to ask questions. Questions to ourselves; to our loved ones; to our leaders. The most pivotal moment in the story of the Annunciation for me is when Mary asks Gabriel, a messenger from God, a question. This is significant on at least two levels: she is asking for clarification from a Divine messenger, and, she is a peasant woman in a Roman occupied village in a time when no woman was allowed to ask those types of questions.
What a powerful example Mary is to all of us, female and male.
Based on the response given by Gabriel, Mary could make an informed decision.
I do not know if Mary could see the final chapter of her son’s human life but she had to know that by making the decision to say yes, they would all be at risk for her acting against the precepts of the time. The alternative, saying no, could have been far worse for humanity. Her decision to say yes changed the course of history.
These have become dark times. We, who have chosen to break from convention, who believe as Jesus did in the dignity and respect of all creation, have been cast about like islands in a vitriolic sea. We must decide how to respond. Do we adapt to this new world order and follow along, remaining mostly silent in fearful surrender, or, if called to serve by Love, do we say, “Yes.”
What say you?
I will be taking the next few months to retreat into the stillness offered by this winter time to discern and reflect. I will continue to post here but will be less frequent.