In the Heart of Winter: A Meditator’s Guide to Advent, Part 3

Rise

Rise up nimbly and go on your strange journey to the ocean of meanings.
The stream knows it can’t stay on the mountain. – Rumi

Let it be. Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel is sometimes seen as passive submission to divine will, offered without choice or deliberation. Yet, there are clues in the story that reveal her active participation, indications of intentional surrendered devotion. First, she questions the angel’s greeting that she is highly favored and blessed. Really? What could that mean? She listens to the prophecy and again, questions. The angel tells her that what happens will be beyond her, “the power of the Highest will overshadow you.” Then he reveals that her elderly cousin Elizabeth has also conceived. After hearing these three announcements, after questioning, and contemplating them, she responds: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy word.”

What Mary does immediately after receiving this inspiration is indicative of faith—she acts on it. She quickly goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She’s inspired and moved to act. She ventures out with this new mysterious inspiration—moving into the world to meet her destiny as an active participant in it.

Mary didn’t know what would occur when she met with Elizabeth, but she goes with faith, based on her inner experience. Her choice to visit Elizabeth reveals and magnifies the awareness of the activity of divine grace in both of their lives. As divine friends, they inspire one another. During her time with Elizabeth, Mary experiences the profound blessing of what is occurring her in life. She proclaims: My soul magnifies the Lord! When she steps out, her vision opens to the blessed nature of her life; she realizes it is filled with divine grace and power.

What inspiration can we draw from this part of the story? As Rumi says, “the stream knows it cannot stay on the mountain.” Spiritual inspiration is meant to be realized and expressed. When we are given a divine inspiration and take a step toward its expression, more is revealed to us, often astounding us with its expansive nature.

 

Practice:

Practice flexing your “inspiration muscles” by acting on insights that you recognize are in harmony with the highest good. Sometimes it is the inspiration to offer a kind word, give a gift of support or service, or to enter the temple of silent meditation. Many times, we are prone to ignore such inspiration. We recognize it as good, but tell ourselves we will get to it later. We then discover that “later” has passed, and we have not acted upon the good we were inspired to do. Then the inspiration and its energy passes, and we are left with a sense of regret, or missed opportunity.

Don’t let the opportunity for a blessing pass you by. Decide to act on at least one inspiration today.

 

Contemplate:

Be quick to do good.
If you are slow,
The mind, delighting in mischief,
Will catch you…
Set your heart on doing good.
Do it over and over again,
And you will be filled with joy. –sayings of the Buddha from The Dhammapada (T. Byrom, trans.)

 

Reflect:

What am I inspired to do?

 

 

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