A priest and performer considers religion, the arts, and the often thin space between sacred and secular, church and culture, pulpit and pew.

Friday, May 31, 2013

At the Threshold, After the Angel - A Riff on the Visitation

In those days, the world cried out in pain:
            the pain of oppression and violence
            of injustice and despair
In those days, the world cried out
            for salvation, for hope, for promise.
In those days of angelic announcement and prophetic discourse and salvific promise –
when did she know?

When the angel came to her, hailing her as favored one?
and when she consented to partner with God in this divine conspiracy?

Or did it become clear at the moment she asked how can this be?
And the angel explained exactly how it could be; is that when she knew?

 Or…was it after the angel departed from her?

When did she know? When did she come to understand her part in this divine plan?

Perhaps not until she set out from Nazareth did understanding begin to grow within her heart
as the Holy grew within her body.
Or finally, when she reached that “town in the Judean hill country”
            and stood at the threshold of the house of priestly Zechariah

When she crossed that threshold and greeted Elizabeth - wise, patient, expectant Elizabeth
prophetic Elizabeth,
Elizabeth who embraced her and felt the movement of the Spirit, the wonder of God’s favor:
“Why me? Why has this happened to me? The mother of my Lord is…here.”

Surely that’s when Mary knew. Crossing that threshold, entering that space made suddenly sacred:
Sacred with hope, sacred with promise, sacred with grace and blessing

Two women – one too old, one far too young
Each faithful and obedient, expectant with promise and salvation;
eyes meeting, arms embracing.

That’s when Mary knew that the news she bore was the Good News.

That’s when Mary understood what it all meant: the angel, the “yes”, the journey, the joyful greeting.
Crossing the threshold had opened her eyes, freed her spirit, opened her heart.
Crossing the threshold, she found her voice and sang a song -
and changed the world.

In those days….

In these days the world still cries out in pain
The world still cries out for those who will bear the Good News
            and give birth to Divine hope and tell of God’s promise

In these days we are Elizabeth; we are the prophetic ones
Sensing the movement of the Spirit, knowing the wonder of God’s favor
Seeing the presence of Christ in the ones who cross the thresholds of our lives
And we are Mary: the obedient ones, the ones who say “yes”.
            We take the journey, step by step, revelation by revelation.

In these days we must be the angels, the prophets, bearing the message of salvation’s promise.

For we, too, have a song to sing:
It is the anthem of salvation, it is the aria of grace,
it is the hymn of promise that poured from Mary’s heart.

We know what news we bear.
We know it is with this news that every place,
and every space,
may be made sacred with hope,
sacred with promise,
sacred with grace and blessing.

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