THURSDAY OF LENT WEEK 5
Gospel Lk 1:26-38. She asked herself what this greeting could mean
There’s a store in Florida I passed one summer day that saw a good opportunity in capitalising on the Christmas feel-good factor. It was called Christmas Every Day. I don’t know if it was successful, but it seemed a bright retail idea. I suspect it may have gone the way of all Christmases as people’s desire to cling to the nostalgia and upbeat mood of turkey and wrapping paper faded and they realised that if Christmas is every day then there’s no Christmas.
Incarnation, however, is a daily event. Today is the feast of the Annunciation when Mary was visited by the angel who offered her the chance to say a vast and unconditional Yes on behalf of us all. Nine months to the day, as a consequence, we will be saying Happy Christmas. Between now and then there will be changes of seasons, more lockdowns, more conspiracy theories, more vaccination nationalism and many more births and deaths. But through all the events constantly being delivered from the womb of time, as Shakespeare called it, a baby will be growing in Mary the universal Mother.
Like the seed planted in the ground that Jesus compared to the Kingdom of Heaven, the baby grows, ‘how we do not know’ while we get up in the morning and go to bed at night. It is like our ‘progress’ in meditation. What changes we may observe and objectify are small compared with what is happening as we are swept along the river of time and into an expanding universe whose limits we cannot see.
Yet we need to be reminded that this new life is continually being formed because it is only too easy to get distracted and downhearted by events that obscure the essential purpose of things. Clinging to good but ephemeral experiences, as the Christmas Every Day approach proposes, is an investment of diminishing returns. Plunging every day into what is taking shape with an unconditional Yes of full acceptance is taking the risk to be alive, to die and to plough back our deaths into the soil of rebirth. So the seed grows and the river flows until the blossom of youth, the fruit of middle age and the harvest of the last days have all been accomplished.
Having been speaking about the mantra for a few years now, I am aware that many people respond to meditation at first with the scepticism that Christmas Every Day arouses. There’s no arguing with them or with one’s own doubts, because experience is the teacher. There is no proof except experience. But nor is there experience without a Yes.
Lenten Reflections 2021