To open today's reflection Fr. Richard asks us all a question. "How do we also
give birth, as Mary did?"
Immediately we are all invited into the story of what God is doing and we all have
a part to play. But, we cannot define the story, nor can we determine what is
ours to give birth to.
The connection to birthing reminds me of some of the differences between the births
of my children and my grandchildren. Our oldest daughter Joey has two little
boys, ages three and one. And our other daughter Jenny has Noah who is two and
another baby on the way. All three of us have enjoyed pregnancy, sharing lots
of stories about anticipation and how inadequate we have each felt as mothers.
But the waiting has been different for them than it was for me. When B.J., our
youngest, was born it was still in the time before parents had the option to
know the sex of the babies before they arrived. My daughters have so much more
information than I had to prepare for the birth of my babies. They not only know
the sex of the baby but they are offered tests to determine if the babies can
be expected to have certain challenges or problems. And, they, along with their
peers, often even select a good day of the week to deliver when the time comes.
However, as Fr. Richard has taught me, information is not knowledge and knowledge
is not wisdom. So while they have more information than we had, they are not
necessarily more prepared. Richard writes near the end of his offering today,
"There is no mention of any moral worthiness, achievement or preparedness
in Mary, only humble trust and surrender."
I haven't talked to my girls yet, but I suspect they would agree with me when I suggest
that more information does not increase either trust or surrender. Those great
gifts are beyond information and knowledge. Trust and surrender are a matter
of faith. I would further say that it is possibly true that the more information
we have, the harder it is to trust and surrender and allow God to be God.
The Question: How can you receive instead of manage life? How does managing life
give you a sense of importance? How does receiving give you a sense of unimportance?
Any who read this probably know well that control is an illusion. I know it too,
and yet I catch myself trying to be in charge on a regular basis. It is really
kind of embarrassing to think for even a moment that I am in charge of any of
the things in life that really matter.
E. L. Doctorow is a novelist who said writing is like driving on a dark road at night.
You can only see as far as the headlights but you can write the whole book that
way. Ann Lamott brought the quote into my world by changing it slightly and she
says, "The spiritual journey is like driving on a dark road at night. You
can only see as far as the headlights but you can make the whole journey that
way." By every account Mary was content with that. Are you?
How can I receive instead of manage life?
I really have learned a lot in recent years about trust and surrender .... no perfection
here .... but I'm better. Though it seems odd, one of the things that has helped
me most is a lesson I learned from David Whyte. He says that we are moving so
fast that we can no longer take note of anything or see anyone who isn't moving
at the same pace we are. For some reason that inability to see helps create in
my life the illusion that I am controlling and managing what is going on around
me. The teaching touched me so deeply I have really tried to slow down. And I'm
discovering that when I move in a more conscious and deliberate way I am less
controlling and more allowing. I don't know why, I only know that it is true.
How does managing give you a sense of importance?
Truthfully, managing only makes me feel important if I keep moving pretty fast and
ensure that there is very little down time. Because I know, we all know when
we are still and quiet, that even if we can manage this minute we may not be
able to manage the next.
How does receiving give you a sense of unimportance?
Receiving feels like someone else is in charge .... fixing and controlling and performing.
But connecting to the reality that God is God and I am not only takes a moment.
So for me the question really comes down to whether or not I can stop, for just a
moment, to reorient myself to what is Real. And that, is not nearly as easy at it sounds.
Fr. Richard ends his reflection with these words, "Mary does not manage, fix,
control or perform in any way. She just says "yes!"
I want to say "yes". Don't you?