"Morning Sun and Olive Trees"
- At the Desert Retreat House -
In exactly nine months it will be Christmas Day. I know this, no because I am starting to think about my Christmas shopping but because, on the Christian calendar, today is the "Feast of the Annunciation." According to this story, nine months before her baby is born, the Angel Gabriel visits Mary and asks if she is wiling to be the mother of Jesus. She says "yes" to the angel's invitation, and in doing so becomes impregnated with the power of love. Nine months later the baby is born in a Bethlehem manger.
Like many if not most Biblical narratives, if the story of the Annunciation is read literally- a CNN documentary of some past historical event, the story must seem somewhat ludicrous to a scientifically-minded, intelligent person living in the 21st century - people don't get pregnant by the force of some magical power.
And even if you do believe in the literal veracity of this story, while it may be important because it accounts for how Jesus came along; when the "rubber hits the road," the story really has little effect on the everyday lives of average people who have never seen an angel and never been asked if they would allow God to impregnate them.
When I read the beautiful poetry of the Annunciation story, I never think about a past event, instead I hear a story about me, a story about all Christians and all believers - more than that, I hear a story about any human being who embarks on a spiritual path, and is bold enough to embrace a life of compassion and kindness.
The story of the Annunciation is so full of rich imagery and deep sentiment that, over the ages, it has touched the spirit of countless artists and inspired the hearts of poets. The Angel Gabriel, his wings on fire with unbridled love engulfs the innocent maiden Mary in his embrace, inviting her to take an enormous leap of faith. He invites her body and soul, her mind and her spirit to be filled up with an all-encompassing energy of love, the power of God.
Mary doesn't take time to weigh all her options (no cost-benefit analysis) and she has no idea what accepting this power of love into her life might mean - no idea of exactly what may be expected of her or how she might suffer because of her choice. But, her heart if filled with trust as she throws caution to the wind: "yes, yes, yes, be it done to me as you will.'
Such stunning poetry
God is "Love." God - the universal abiding, all encompassing fire of love burns at the core of every living being. And each us is Mary- always invited to say "yes" to Love and to walk in the way of Love rather than in the direction of self-centeredness and ego. But the choice is always ours and saying yes to love is risky and bold especially in a culture that more than often says no.
In the Baptismal Covenant, before a Christian is initiated into the way of faith he/she is asked this question:
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people
and respect the dignity of every human being?
Wow, talk about a loaded question. It's a question asked by the Angel Gabriel- wings all flaming with a burning passion, an all-embracing love stands before the soul, asking, "Will you allow your entire life to me impregnated with the power of love? Will you embrace a lifestyle, everything you have and everything you do devoted to the cause of love, respecting the dignity of every human being?"
If we place ourselves into this poetry, we hear Angel Gabriel ask this question not just of potential Christians but of any who would say yes to Love- regardless of beliefs, regardless of traditions or spiritual paths. The Angel asks this question of us all on this Annunciation Day.
So today, I renew my answer once again and I say yes to Love- "yes, yes, yes, be it done to me as you will."