The Annunciation

I had a space in the morning so dipped into the Metropolitan, and chose the Northern Renaissance in order to stop being overwhelmed.

I spent my time with two Annunciations by Hans Memling.

They are calm and intimate. In both, Mary demurrers her assent by pointing to the book she is reading, implying it is written, I can do no other. But she could. She is a free agent.

The story needs its wonder restored - what is it that moves this particular woman to accept the divine burden, what is it in her that gives the divine birth?

This mystery is only driven back by her own stainless conception! Is it simply that the divine son must arise out of a pure consciousness. It is not assent that Mary offers but recognition that the angel brings. She is recognized as a sign of the purity of consciousness that gives rise to divine incarnation. If we wish to be newly born, it is the creation of a vessel that can bear that truth, that is required of us.

The sadness of the story, as now enshrined in dogma, is that it is made 'special', 'distanced' not a celebration of who we are but of who we are not. This event is uniquely different, it says, rather than an offer of our own uniqueness in its imitation.

It is curious, the arising of this 'double-bind' in Christianity (indeed in the all three religions of the Book). This is who you are it declares with one hand, God's restoration of humanity, while taking it away with the other declaring this as an historical event uniquely separate, not for you, a God bearer. From a historical position, this makes sense, from a mystical one none!


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