We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself? And what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I also do not give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us.Meister Eckhart
This week I have been listening to Pray As You Go when I wake up. (I come and go with it: I love music, but I’m particular and snobbish, and I’m not enamoured of much modern religious music; I love Ignatian Spirituality, but there is a cross-cultural friction because I’m not a Roman Catholic; Ignatian Spirituality trusts “the Creator to deal directly with the creature, and the creature directly with his Creator and Lord”, but some of the compilers pose questions that lead the witness. I know: I’m hard to please.) Quibbles notwithstanding, it is a helpful spiritual practice for me: it opens me again to God and offers a hint of gladness to cherish. (I prefer it to the Today programme, the tenor of which contributes to the taint of discourtesy and disrespect in our common life.)
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am 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 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.(Luke 1.26-38)
On Monday, Pray As You Go celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The story of the Annunciation is read. I lie in bed, in the dark, eyes closed, earbuds in, immersed in the scene. Am I watching this greeting, or am I the greeted? I entertain Mary’s ordinariness. A woman making home. Nothing special. I hear the angel say, “You have found favour with God.” Mary is perplexed. Any of us would be. She does not see it. What has any of this to do with her?
I might say about others that they are ordinary. That I account myself unordinary is tacit. But God favours ordinary. The angel visits everyone. “Greetings, favoured one. Do not be afraid.” We don’t realise this is true in every moment.
The angel is at my door. All I need say is, “Here I am…”
Only now do I know that Your touch was an annunciation. I felt (feel) favoured. I was (am) not afraid. I was (am) perplexed (“How can this be…?”). Since then I have felt the kick inside. Only now do I say, “Here I am. Make Your home in me.”
If the Incarnation – Divinity revealed in the world – means anything, it means God in all things (to use Ignatius’ phrase) including you and me.
When it comes down to it, all I want is to be in Your Presence. But I don’t believe I am allowed. I should be a better man – improve, perform, produce. To bring You to birth, I only have to be present. “Here I am.” We are all pregnant with Divinity.
Why does this matter? Why does knowing that you and I are pregnant with the Divine matter?
Our ecosystem is collapsing. This is not a scientific problem but human foolishness. We suffer from self, greed, and apathy. A change of heart and mind – a difficult to imagine but not-impossible rewiring of the brain – is required if we are to avert disaster.
[For the Ignatian way to rewire the brain, read this.]
Knowing we are greeted by God, favoured by God, and pregnant with God is a start. Life is about more than me; if I have You I have everything I could need; if I am with child I have a reason.