Annunciation, Womanhood and Lent.
Anyway, I was randomly at mass today so otherwise I wouldn't really be paying attention to the liturgical year so closely. You won't be shocked to learn that Catholic holidays honoring Mary (Marian feasts) are not usually my thing... Except that the Annunciation is a Marian feast I kinda believe in.
After all, Mary at some point was impregnated and found out she was pregnant...Hence, the Annunciation. So 9 months from now is Christmas, and here we are in the middle of Lent thinking about Christmas, or at least what I was thinking about was the Incarnation: that in order for God to become human God must first become alive in humans. Not in our "spirits" not in our "imaginations" but in our bodies. God must inhabit us for God to become alive in our world.
I have been pregnant 2 times, and both of these pregnancies resulted in children (I am very fortunate I know), and both experiences of pregnancy were intensely physical. I was inhabited, taken over, demanded to change, uncomfortable and disoriented. When I am in my very best place my prayer to God is this- that God will inhabit me (and my world), God will change me (and my world), God will make me (and my world) comfortable and uncomfortable, and that God will disorient me (and my world)
In the midst of mass, hearing a homily from a celibate man, I also was dumbstruck by the idea that this man was preaching to a room of almost all women about the conception of a child in a uterus. When in fact, pregnancy is to central to womanhood, even if you are not a pregnant woman. Every single adult rational woman has pondered pregnancy. She has either feared, longed for, wondered, explored, dreaded, wished, hoped etc. pregnancy. Stages of womanhood are defined by when you can become pregnant (seemingly) and when you are done becoming pregnant (seemingly) When you are a woman you know that pregnancy is or is not a reality for you. You face, as a bodied person this reality and must sort out the answer in the context of your life, longing, situation, partnership, body etc. So what of Mary? What of her yes? Her fear? Perhaps her rage? I do not exactly know. I just know that as women she and I, we shared something.
I do know that to understand the incarnation, the starting with Mary, with God inhabiting Mary, reminds me during this Lenten season that it is not about spirit, about concepts, about ideas, about abstract sin, or ambiguous presence, Christian relationship with God is embodied. It is incarnational! It is service to others, it is dirty hands, and uncomfortable feelings, it is here and now in this world with smells, sounds, and sights. In this very bodied place.