I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
The Advent story begins with Mary in solitude. Maybe she was praying. Maybe she was sitting in contemplative silence. We hear that she was one who pondered things in her heart. This practice of quietness, of prayerful stillness, of silent reflection, was common in Mary’s day. It was understood that God comes most often in the quiet depths of the human heart. People understood the necessity of preparing our hearts in such a way as to invite the gift of contemplation that fosters union with The Divine. It is in this posture of stillness and quiet hospitality that we find Mary listening with the ears of her heart, waiting to be taken by the Divine Mystery.
I wonder what it was like the moment just before the angel Gabriel came to her. I wonder what it is like to be approached and found by an Angel in such a way. What did it feel like in the instant before the angel made himself known? Did her heart flutter? Was she frightened? Did the stillness become so still as to signal the profound mysteriousness of the divine moment? What was it like the moment before the arrival of a divine messenger?
In this time of Advent, we, like Mary, are sitting in quiet anticipation of what will come next. Something big is about to happen. There is a sense of awe, of curiosity, and of knowing that the best we can do is offer our hearts in hospitality and trust in the Divine Mystery.
Mary is the Mother of God. She is the Theotokos – The God Bearer. She has found favor with God and has been chosen for a divine purpose. And Mary accepts this divine invitation with humility. Although we are not Mary, we are also not unlike Mary. All of us have been chosen by God for a divine purpose. We may not understand why we were chosen, but neither did Mary and we can learn from her example of hospitality, humility, and trust.
Are not all of us called to be Theotokos – to be bearers of God to the world around us? Are not all of us called to be instruments of God’s compassion and love in the world. The answer to this question is simply “yes.” This “yes” was Mary’s response, and it should be ours too. We don’t have to run ahead of God’s grace and know how it all plays out. All we have to do is sit quietly preparing our hearts in hospitality to the Divine Messenger of God. For it is in the depths of stillness within the human heart that the Holy One can be heard. If we are listening.