The Advent Season is traditionally the start of the church calendar, the beginning of the Jesus story as it centres on the incarnation. But it is the larger than life persona of Mary that captures our imagination as we lean into the idea of an invisible God choosing visibility in the most unassuming way.
An angel becomes the annunciator of this remarkable declaration of universal significance - what it means for all mankind to receive a divine download of some kind, the possibility of holy impregnation. An invitation to Mary and us all. As an archetype she becomes the reference point for this request to participate in a reimagined future, one that would include all humanity.
‘Jesus' mission was not to placate Gods view of mankind but rather to change mankind's view of God’
When the messenger makes the stunning declaration that Mary is beautiful 'inside and out' we see the first signs of the incarnation's primary purpose…to recalibrate mankind's thinking about how God sees us and how we might understand this new vision of God, who is not an angry and disappointed deity as we historically might have thought. Could it be that this new way of thinking, this holy paradigm is calling us into a whole new understanding of beauty as the focal point of redemption and transformation, not just an after-life rescue strategy for the ugliness of human behaviour and the subsequent perils of eternal damnation?
'E hoa ma, ina te ora o te tangata' [My Friends, this is the essence of life]
This Maori proverb is an exclamation which can be used when someone is surprised or satisfied. Generally used at the dinner table from a guest who is appreciative of the meal they have just received. The essence of life is a moment of elation and exhilaration that comes to deeply satisfy the intrinsic purpose of our human existence.
Mary’s initial surprise and exclamation exposes her deep subjective self to a new objective reality of divine providence that was breaking into her familiar and predictable world to take her on a journey of unparalleled adventure. We cannot underestimate the importance of revelation and epiphany as an animating force that enlivens us with new ways of being.
Artist Sarah Walker once said that becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you already live.
Mary analogously reminds us that the Divine is looking for a place of habitation in the human condition, room to add aesthetic to our spirituality and invite us into new experiences of discovery. Deep in the architecture of our potential becoming are areas of huge possibility yet to be advantaged for our maturation, hidden spaces that are yet to be uncovered or exposed to the possibility of a new consciousness. This self-awareness becomes the new locus for personal growth, the fruit of our spiritual womb so-to-speak that eventually ‘saves-our-known-world’.
Every great piece of narrative has a mysterious and magical otherness that we must lean into if we are to discover the imaginative world of the divine. Writers coined these places, Narnia, Wonderland, or Neverland, secret worlds that reside in the creative resourcefulness of our hopefulness. These are places where heaven is residing, waiting to invite us into a new chapter about the future of mankind. These are locales where the new normal is outside of anything we might have assumed or even expected, where the mind can conjure or propose alternative futures and the customary laws of nature are conscripted for a higher purpose.
Advent is the story of a new kind of arrival that emerges from the soul of our human consciousness, a divine summons to participate in the coming of a new hypostatic experience and relationship. Just like Mary, I need to ponder the ramifications of this great announcement, incline my heart to its deeper meaning and become the servant of this new grandiose plan.
Peace on earth and goodwill to all in this advent season.