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 1:38
Become quiet and still. Open your heart to this moment, to this image, to this Scripture, to God. Take your time. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you sense is God’s invitation to you?
Ernesto Cardinal is a Nicaraguan Catholic priest, poet, and political activist; in the late 1950s, he spent two years as a Trappist novice under the guidance of Thomas Merton. In the 1960s, he went to the Solentiname Islands in Nicaragua and founded a Christian community of peasants, artists, and writers. For many years, Cardenal would gather each week with the peasants in Solentiname to reflect on gospel reading, to have discussions rather than sermons. He recorded their dialogues and published four volumes of what was acclaimed as a classic expression of liberation theology. The conversations happened during the dictatorship of General Samoza, when the country was facing civil war. During the war, many small towns and villages were destroyed, including the religious community in Solentiname.
An abridged version of the four-volume set, The Gospel in Art by the Peasants in Solentiname, contains art and reflections on 31 gospel passages, from the annunciation to the resurrection, by a group of peasant farmers. This painting of the Annunciation shows a typical Nicaraguan home. We have rockers here at First Baptist that look just like the ones in this picture, given to us by our friends in Nandasmo, Nicaragua.
Mary is sitting in a chair, doing some sewing, harkening back to some of the earliest depictions of the Annunciation, in which Mary is shown spinning yarn – a typically female creative act, and an act of making something out of nothing. Gabriel comes walking in looking just like an ordinary man, dressed in typical clothes for a Nicaraguan male, though if you look closely, you can see a shower of stars around his head. Other than the tiny lights around Gabriel’s head, this scene could be any two people in any home in Nicaragua. This is its charm and its challenge: sometimes – maybe most of the time – the invitation to let God be born anew in our lives comes in the midst of absolutely ordinary living. When that is the case, how do we hear? And how do we respond? What in our ordinary lives will change because we listen to God’s call? And what in our world will change?
In discussing the story of the Annunciation with Cardenal, a man named Alejandro said about Mary: “It seems to me that here we should admire above all her obedience. And so we should be ready to obey, too. This obedience is revolutionary, because it’s obedience to love. Obedience to love is very revolutionary, because it commands us to disobey everything else.”
Consider how obedience to love is revolutionary. What is the “everything else” that you might be called to “disobey” if you were to be radically obedient to love?
God, help me to see today the high call of love in my life. Help me see where love is calling me to do something different, or something more, or something less, than I otherwise might do. And help me to be obedient to love.