Annunciation of the Birds
I found it rather appropriate that as I left for work this very early morning that I should notice the singing of birds for the first time since winter began. Perhaps I had simply been unattuned to their presence in the past, but no matter...it was clear to me today. They announce to me the coming of Spring, as Gabriel announces to our Lady the coming of salvation...our awakening from the death of the winter of our sins. Today, nine months before Nativity, we celebrate the Annunciation.
The Theotokos is a real stumbling block to many of my protestant friends...but for me I will steal the simple and beautifully appropriate words of an inquirer/catechumen friend of mine: "I have come to love Mary."
On my way to work as I listened to more troublesome news about the war, I found myself reflecting on why I seem to so often talk past my protestant friends and vice versa...especially in regards to our lauding of the Theotokos. I suspect it is a foundational difference in our approach to the faith and as I look back into my past I think I can identify what was different then - for me - as compared to now. Yes, I am going to beat the dead horse of East VS. West...bear with me.
To me, Christianity was like a science. It had an authoritative book, like a great science text which I could use to properly discern truth. The tools with which I approached and understood the faith were just like the tools I use here today in this lab that I work in. We discern truth through experiment (which I analogize to "proper, rational, and scholastic" interpretation of the Scripture) and reason. I would hear of doctrines and promptly be able to rattle off proof-text after proof-text conclusively showing the error of that belief or - as the case may be - the correctness of that belief. Yes, I had emotions as I certainly do here in the lab (I mean who can hold the CSF sample of a dying infant and not be moved?), but overall my paradigm was hinged on western and rationalistic thinking. I know this isn't Headline News to any of us - certainly I have rambled about such things in the past...but sometimes I have these moments of clearity while talking to a friend and these foundational differences in approach become painfully evident.
Orthodoxy seems to hold Christianity out, not like a rational science, but instead like a great work of literature and poetry. It is an altogether different approach in which paradox and mystery are fully embraced and joyfully left unexplained. It is the approach of a world in which our faith was born, a world that knew nothing of western rationalism and so-called enlightenment. It is a world in which hymns such as these can be written and sung to the Theotokos, the Mother of Light:
Today is revealed the mystery that is from all eternity.
The Son of God becomes the Son of man, that, sharing in what is worse, He may make me share in what is better.
In times of old Adam was once deceived: he sought to become God, but received not his desire.
Now God becomes man, that He may make Adam God.
Let creation rejoice, let nature exult: for the Archangel stands in fear before the Virgin and, saying to her 'Hail',
he brings the joyful greeting whereby our sorrow is assuaged.
O Thou who in Thy merciful compassion wast made man, our God, glory to Thee!
Today is the beginning of our salvation,
The revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:
Rejoice, O Full of Grace,
The Lord is with You!
It is a world in which the Incarnation is so REAL that we stand in awe and reverence of the Annunciation. We do not pass over it with a shrug and say: "God can do anything"
Instead we take a break from our busy world to spend some time marveling at this wonderful thread which is so important to the Tapestry of our faith. Let us pause and marvel...pause and marvel....pause and marvel...this seems to be the endless cycle of my expereince with Orthodoxy. It is a beautiful thing.
Rejoice! O Virgin!
A Wonderful feast day to all!
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:45 AM [+]