The picture here is entitled “The Annunciation”. I found it about ten years ago when I was writing my Master’s thesis for the Pastoral Counseling program at Loyola University in Maryland while searching for pictures to match each of my chapters. It is by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859 – 1937), the first African-American to gain international acclaim for his painting talent. I love it because it is so non-traditional, more like I imagine the actual happening of the visit to Mary by the angel Gabriel.
The theme of “yes” will be visited more than once in my writings. While such a simple word, it carries wonderful delights and weighty responsibilities.
The first time I pondered Mary’s “yes” was when I was given a gift by my best friend, my next door neighbor, Cathy, when we were in our freshman year of high school. It was the book “Two from Galilee” by Marjorie Holmes. Ms. Holmes tells the story of Mary and Joseph outside of what we read in the Bible, filling in the blanks and helping us to understand what it must have really been like for them. I read it during Advent almost every year and have passed it along to many.
Why did Mary say “yes”? We are led to believe it was an automatic response from the soul. Did she know what it would bring to her? Shame, divorce, possible stoning for adultery? I have to think that she did. That she knew and it didn’t matter. That she knew the possibilities and trusted in her God so fully that she knew that God would bring her through anything. That the deep agape love that had developed between she and God allowed her to respond without thought of herself and only for others.
It was her intimate relationship with God that compels me to want to know more about her. How can I have the courage and depth of love for God that allows me to put myself fully into a place where I can be used without any thought of myself?
I invite you to share your own thoughts and stories about “yes”…