annunciation

during the advent season, when i behold images of mary in paintings and icons i see myself, in various stages of receiving God’s love. it is as if i am looking into a mirror.. . or perhaps as if i am being gazed upon in the same way in which i am gazing upon the image.

this week i am working on preparing materials for a retreat where we will be looking at images of her annunciation — the day she finally heard the message that she was blessed, beloved, bearing something beautiful, the day the angel came to her and she RECEIVED the news.

one of the things i found interesting in my research is how the art depicting this moment has evolved throughout the centuries, especially art created by women. in the early days mary is often portrayed as frightened, cowering. often the figure of the angel is above her, doing something TO her perhaps that she didn’t ask for. (these were often painted by males). as time progressed, mary and gabriel came to be seen on equal footing…same level, same size, mirrored gaze….two halves of the same whole, like a splitting of the soul. there is an intimate communication taking place between the characters in the scene. i read that the annunciation is basically a love story, between our essence and our existence, between our divinity and our humanity, between otherness and identity. the moment when we become one is when we come to know our humanity as blessed, when we hear at last who we truly are. more recent artists have started painting the scene with the angel appearing behind her, as in a shadow type figure, whispering to her. some have even painted mary herself with wings, to illustrate the idea that the angel/divine messenger is within.

we need look for the love we seek within….hear the message that we are good from our own souls, who know the truth of who we are. it doesn’t happen TO us from without, we open to it from within. this is a truly feminine understanding.

may you open to your belovedness.

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