Br. John Forbis, OHC
The Feast of the Annunciation - Saturday, March 25, 2017
Sometimes when encountering such feasts as this morning’s, I can be somewhat distant and even remote from the immediacy of the event. I don’t have any reference points to an angel making a rather bizarre announcement to a young woman from a small village known as Nazareth in Galilee, a location where many people, particularly those who are “anybody” would avoid. Who is Mary? Why her? Why is she distinguished as different and special? What was she doing when the angel arrived? And perhaps the most pertinent question, Why would she agree to such an absurd suggestion from this apparition?
Even when being confronted with the Angelus three times a day every day for the last twenty or so years, there are so many questions. Yet, do these questions really matter? Mary responded to Gabriel by saying yes, and I get the idea that she isn’t just accepting this responsibility put upon her with resignation. She does have enough gumption to question the angel on his peculiar ideas of how a child might be born. Thus, her affirmative seems to have more will involved. And even though, I may not understand her reasons, she defies my own doubts and expectations by her yes. Yes, to God breaking into her at this moment in her life.
This is cause not for questions but for rejoicing, a crying out of our own Magnificat even if it is gravelly and raucous. (Dare I say this in Lent?!?!) Because from her response, God breaks into all of our lives. God, more often than not, also does it in those same absurd and incongruous ways as well. In the extraordinarily ordinary particulars of our daily existence, God becomes enfleshed in us, our bodies and lives, where we would least look for her, in the daily rhythms and cycles of speech, silence, give and take, eating, rest, work, play, breath, song, and the natural rises and falls of this world. And suddenly past, present and future can converge on one rather mundane moment and shock us by that moment’s warped sense of humor. Kathleen Norris’s poem, “She Said, Yeah” has taught me this. Even Mary’s yes can seem like it is matter of fact as well as the angel’s acknowledgement.
The land lies open: summer fallow, hayfield, pasture. Folds of cloud mirror buttes knife-edged in shadow. One monk smears honey on his toast, another peels an orange.
A bell rings three times, as the Angelus begins, bringing to mind Gabriel and Mary. “She said yeah,” the Rolling Stones sing from a car on the interstate, “She said Yeah.” And the bells pick it up, many bells now, saying it to Metchtild, the barn cat, pregnant again; to Ephrem’s bluebirds down the draw, to the grazing cattle and the monks (virgins, some of them) eating silently before the sexy tongue of a hibiscus blossom at their refectory window. “She said yeah.” And then the angel left her.