Luke 1:30, 34-35, 38c (NRSV)

The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. Mary said to the angel, "How can this be for I am still a virgin?" 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 holy; he will be called the Son of God. Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.


There is inspiration that emerges from our heads: new ideas, pathways to resolve an issue or solve a problem, actions one needs to take. Sometimes the ideas emerge slowly. At other times they are a flash of insight.

But there is another type of awareness deep within us, somewhere near the solar plexus, where the depths part and life welcomes us to give birth. This openness initiates a great turning or opening. We are somehow both embraced by the love of the Cosmos and set free in the Spirit. Whenever we open to the angel's touch, our being is opened and a new wholeness emerges.

For me, the most beautiful image of this moment of opening and transformation is the Cestello Annunciation by Botticelli. (You can find it easily on line.) Notice Mary's posture as she turns. If you try to imitate it, you will likely fall so hold on. For when the Holy One calls us away from the past into a new future, we will be destabilized. Even the beauty of the moment will throw us off balance. As the angel kneels and Mary turns, their bodies seem to create a circle of intimacy and wholeness. As each reaches out a hand to the other, we can almost feel a living, kinetic energy flowing between them.

The painting represents that open, vulnerable moment when we let go of the securities of the past and the certainties of our own minds and open to God's call into a future we cannot imagine. It is the moment when something new is conceived within us and, still off balance, we say, "Yes," to a new way of being that we cannot yet envision or comprehend.


In the midst of the busyness of this season, O God, may we remain open to the signs of new birth you have scattered all around us. When we get caught up and cannot see them, may we trust your promise that they will yet come into being. Amen

December 17, 2014
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