The Annunciation: A meditation on partnering with God

This meditation can be used in different ways. You could sit with it for a while and take time to reflect on different words and phrases. But most of us flick by things like this at more of a pace: just more words that we absorb in our hurried catching up. That’s okay too. This piece is intentionally short for that reason. Maybe a word, an idea or a question will remain with you into the day. Stop here for as long as you are able. And no longer. Use this place as a quiet pause, a deep breath, a moment for your soul to listen and speak.

It might help you to know the story that has inspired this piece. If so, you can read it here.


She could have said no, you know.
Even as the angel told her what would be, Mary still had a choice.
The angel waited for her response.

God sought Mary’s yes.
He wanted her permission, her assent.

Mary could not have done this alone.
But neither could God.

Nothing will be impossible with God, says the angel.
And nothing would have been possible without Mary.

Mary needed God.
God needed Mary.

God’s suggestion
and
Mary’s assent
heralded an alliance of Heaven and Earth.
A union so perfect, so complete, so potent, that it would set the world alight.

And so as Mary cradled that embryo – then foetus – then baby, with her body, so God himself cradled Mary.
She became overshadowed by the Most High: held, protected, empowered.

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Have I known moments of annunciation? Perhaps…

…a creeping feeling of what will be.
…a prompt to become more fully who I really am.
…a nudge towards my destiny.
…an invitation to partner with God and await what unfolds ahead of me.

I don’t have to say yes.
But are there things that God cannot do without my yes?

Do I ponder, perplexed and disturbed as Mary was, on how God might be using my own moments of annunciation – and my quiet submission to them – to change my own small corner of the world?

And do I know that I am cradled, even as I seek the courage to say “yes”?

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Yes

Every one of God’s promises is a “yes”.
(2 Corinthians 1:20)

I have never been very good at saying “yes”.

“Yes” demands things from me. It asks for my permission, my blessing, my support. “Yes” may signal my promise to change. It may seek my embrace of something new and different.

But the more deeply I come to know God, the more significant “yes” becomes. “Yes” can be a lens with which to revisit parts of the Bible narrative. Over and over again we read about God’s “yes” to his people.

God’s “yes” grants permission, offers freedom, bestows trust. God’s “yes” is an invitation to grow, an exercise of free will, a learning experience.

“Yes” acknowledges the stark possibility of failure. “Yes” is an expectation of new beginnings. Of trying again.

Do we expect a “no”, and find ourselves hearing “yes”?
Do we react with a “no”, and shut down the possibilities of “yes”?
Do we have a vocation to be speakers of God’s “yes”?

Here are two poems on the theme. One may appeal more than the other, and there is an offensive word in the first…

Yes

It’s like a tap-dance
or a new pink dress,
a shit-naive feeling
Saying Yes.

Some say Good morning
Some say God bless –
Some say Possibly
Some say Yes.

Some say Never
Some say Unless
It’s stupid and lovely
To rush into Yes.

What can it mean?
It’s just like life,
One thing to you
One to your wife.

Some go local
Some go express
Some can’t wait
To answer Yes.

Some complain
Of strain and stress
The answer may be
No for Yes.

Some like failure
Some like Success
Some like Yes Yes
Yes Yes Yes.

Open your eyes,
Dream but dont guess.
Your biggest surprise
Comes after Yes.

MURIEL RUKEYSER
From Staying Alive, Neil Astley (ed.), 2012, Bloodaxe Books


God says yes to me

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

KAYLIN HAUGHT
From The Palm of Your Hand, 1995, Tilbury House Publishers