Chris ~ The choir at the Cathedral wrapped up the Christmas season with “Lessons and Carols” last weekend. Among the music and scripture was the story of the Annunciation. Hearing it again, I flashed back to several months ago when that story appeared at Sunday Mass. In his homily, our Rector painted an image of Mary that unsettled me because it stood in sharp contrast to the image I have of myself. He spoke of her openness, her ability to not control, her trust, her confidence in God, her purity of attitude.
When he was done, all I could think was “I’m not that girl.”
It was almost painful to see the gulf between my broken approach to faithfulness and her grace-filled one. I keep thinking that in just a little while, I will get it figured out and everything will be fine: finances, time, my children’s happiness, the bad spot in the roof, the drafty windows, the projects at work, the laundry, the cracks in the masonry, my children’s school, their relationships. I just need to keep pushing for a little longer.
Mary, on the other hand: gets a surprise visit from an angel, is invited to become pregnant out of wedlock, could lose her engagement with Joseph, might face public recrimination, and is asked to open herself to God in a radical way as the first to receive Jesus, the son of God, into her very self. She says yes.
Wow… I am so not that girl.
Okay, she did have a question, “How can this be..?” One question. Really? I would have had dozens. I would have needed charts, diagrams, and legal contracts to ensure this would not get too crazy, before I would even get close to “let me think about it.” If I wanted to sound more holy I would say “Let me pray about it.”
When Mary gets the answer to her question, where is the bargaining, the follow-up questions, the parsing of words to find out precisely what is she getting into? She seems so naive.
Okay, maybe its not naivete but trust, since she responds “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.” She is truly herself in relationship to God, and her very identity is intertwined with her relationship with God.
Then she goes on, “May it be done to me according to your word.” What! are you crazy? That leaves a lot of room for things to happen!
Yeah. I’m not that girl. <sigh> I want to see some more details before I make that kind of commitment. It seems too open-ended to me. Give me: specifics, promises, commitments, guarantees. Hmm, perhaps I have some control issues.
This brings us back to the pesky homily that made me realize that Mary and I are coming at this very differently. Facing the truth of the fruits, of her way of doing things, I need to make some adjustments this year. (Thanks for the homily notes, Father!) He asked the question: what kind of heart and soul is needed to create the space, wherein something divine can be born?
That question was a catalyst that I too should be, in a way, pregnant with the presence of God in my very being. Ready to bring life into a broken world. Today, I am a long way from there.
Like Mary, I need to be untouched by illusion or cynicism. I need to be open, in my deepest and most true self, to say “yes.” I need to live patience, rather than impatience; reverence, rather than irreverence; respect, rather than disrespect; acceptance, rather than manipulation; trust rather than control; generosity, rather than self will; humility, rather than grandiosity.
It is going to be a busy year. Perhaps at the end I will be just a little bit more like that girl.
Mary Mother of God, pray for us.
Copyright 2015, Chris and Elaine Weickert
Image: Chris Weickert, All Rights Reserved