Annunciation Reflection: Letting Go

AnnunciationMoasic

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word.  (Luke 1:38 KJV).

These words of Mary in response the news brought to her by the Angel Gabriel, suggest a total surrender to God’s will.  Mary accepts what news she has received and lets go of everything to be God’s instrument of new and wonderful things about to happen for her and the world.

Centering prayer and contemplative prayer are about accepting and letting go.  These are two of the most difficult things for most of us to do.  The world around us is so full of violence and turmoil.  Our minds are overwhelmed with twenty-four relentless hours of news, media and information.  We all have our personal obligations of family, work, and relationships.  We all have so many questions and fears about what is coming next.

The news that Mary hears on this Holy Day of the Annunciation is that God is going to do something new and wonderful through her.  Mary is no fool.  She knows how much this news will change many things in her life.  Yet, no one is more unsure of what comes next than she is.  In her amazing faith, she recognizes God at work in her life at this moment.  She gives her total self and attention to the work God is doing in her life.  She trusts her entire self in the word of the Lord.  Mary lets go.

As we prepare for Holy Week during which time we will hear Jesus say similar words in the Garden of Gethsemane, let us take time to center ourselves on God.  May we contemplate the great mystery of God coming to us as one like us, who shows us how to accept and let go.  The mystical vision of God in contemplative prayer begins and ends with letting go of ourselves and trusting in God’s perspective.  May we have the faith and courage of Mary to trust God with everything we are and have; believing that only best is yet to come.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Light and Salvation

LightPiercingDarkness

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?  the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?  (Psalm 27:1 The Book of Common Prayer. p.617).

I am writing this blog post after receiving some very sad news.  Evan Karges is 19 years old.  He has been battling cancer in the form of tumors for quite a few years.  His parents Karen and Dave have been at his side supporting him and loving him throughout Evan’s illness.  Last week, Evan had surgery to try to remove a tumor on his brain.  The surgeons were unable to remove the whole tumor because it contained blood vessels.  The prognosis for Evan is that he has days maybe weeks left to live.  The news is heart wrenching.  I cannot imagine the emotions of the family.  The news could not have come at a worse time with Thanksgiving one week from today.

As devastating as this news is, it is the words of Psalm 27:1 that gives me a vision of God’s mysterious will through this very dark experience.  Amidst the darkness of death, despair and life’s most challenging times; God is our light and salvation.  We have nothing to fear.  As I meditate on this verse and the situation with Evan, I am inspired by the Karges families’ courage.  They are the embodiment of the courage that well all need when confronted by a tragedy such as this. Such courage comes from faith that is our path to trust in God no matter what happens.

The photograph above the Psalm verse shows a blinding light that pierces the storm and/or night clouds.  The light is illuminating everything that is hidden.  The scene below is full of beauty and mystery.   We know there is a mountain, some trees and possibly a river.  What we do not know is what is going on in each of them that even the light cannot help us see.  Such can be the case for us in our own lives.  Whether everything is visible to the human eye or only known to God and ourselves alone; the Light that is the God of our salvation is there in the Person of Jesus Christ walking through our dark times with us.  God is grieving and weeping with and for us.  God doesn’t always heal or deliver us from death.   However, our hope of salvation here and in the next life is always in God’s hands.  We should therefore, never be afraid.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Jesus, the Gentle Mother

MotherwithChild

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you; you are gentle with us as a mother with her children. (Canticle Q, A Song of Christ’s Goodness by St. Anselm of Canterbury.  Enriching Our Worship 1. p.39).

One of the messages I have to tell myself over and over is to be gentle with myself. I remember the first time someone said those words to me, “Be gentle with yourself.”   It wasn’t long after my father died.  I was filled with grief along with many emotions.  As a way of trying to escape from my grief, I tried to do everything I always did as if there was nothing wrong.  When it all caught up with me, I found it necessary to let go of so many things for a while.  I felt so guilty for letting other people down.  One person who was among them said to me, “Be gentle with yourself, you have things you need to give attention right now. Give yourself permission to let go.”

The words I quoted below the picture, are strange.  We don’t think of Jesus in the feminine.  The message here is what the gender symbolizes.  There is nothing so wonderful and intimate; as when a mother tenderly picks up her baby and holds the child near her heart.  Whatever crisis the child may be experiencing; the mother is there to receive the child and provide her loving and tender care.  She knows that as the child grows older, she won’t be able to hold the child as close.  The child will get bigger.  The child will go many places where she will not be able to hold and comfort the child in quite the same way.  But, for that single moment in time, she gets to hold this child and give her love.

In Jesus Christ, God loves all of us as tenderly as a mother loves her child.  Jesus gathers us in the arms of God in the midst of our sorrows, confusion and grief.  He holds all of us in the bosom of God’s heart; in the enfolding embrace of holy love and grace.  He does not let us go.  We are never too far from His sight.  In the contemplative vision, we are always embraced from God’s perspective to continue our journey back to God who is our true and everlasting end.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB