Saturday, December 14

No Wind at the Window     [John L. Bell 1992]

No wind at the window, no knock on the door
No light from the lamp stand, no foot on the floor
No dream born of tiredness, no ghost raised by fear
Just an angel and a woman and a voice in her ear.

I suppose that many of us imagine the coming of Gabriel to Mary as a dramatic event, and perhaps it was, but John Bell offers a different imagination of the encounter between Mary and Gabriel.  No rush of wind, no nighttime pounding on the door, no bright lights, no sounds of an approach, no hallucination born from sleep-deprivation, no night terrors brought Mary to her state of attentiveness.  Just a peasant girl, and a "voice in her ear."

I, for one, am glad for Bell's simple version of events.  My own encounters with God have not often been of the dramatic kind, and I have a hunch that God sends us far more messages than we receive because we are not listening to that still small voice which is trying to get a message across and which has to do that amid the noise and haste of our rat-race existence.

In a recent Pastor's Class I quoted Gregory the Great about our habit of becoming insensitive to the wonders which surround us and which might (if we were to reclaim their miraculous nature) remind us of God.  Gregory wrote in his Book of Pastoral Rule:

"Those things which are full of marvels for an investigation deeper than we can reach have become cheap from custom in the eyes of men. . .
 . . . if a dead man is raised to life, all men spring up in astonishment.  Yet everyday one that had no being is born, and no man wonders, though it is plain to all, without doubt, that it is a greater thing for that to be created which was without being than for that which had being to be restored.  Because the dry rod Aaron budded, all men were in astonishment; yet every day a tree is produced from the dry earth, . . .and no man wonders . . . Five thousand men we filled with five loaves; . . . yet every day the grains of seed that are sown are multiplied in a fullness of ears, and no man wonders.  All wondered to see water once turned into wine, yet everyday the earth's moisture, being drawn into the root of the vine, is turned by the grape into wine, and no man wonders.  Full of wonder then are all the things which men never think to wonder at, because . . . they are by habit become dull to the consideration of them."  GREGORY THE GREAT (c. 540–604)

Today let us wake up and notice once again the gentle ways by which God is seeking to speak to us.  God just might be saying to us as Gabriel did to Mary, "I am at work in you doing something that you may not even understand, but you can trust that it will be good."

Daily Collect:
God, you come to us in all the most ordinary ways.  Help us to avoid the habit of being "dull to the consideration" of your many astonishing graces.  We ask it in the name of the One whose arrival was announced to Mary, and who we trust is coming again.  Amen.

Paul Lang