by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM Ireland 11.11.2023
The most poignant line in the story of the Annunciation is the last line. The angel told Mary the great news that she was to bear a child. This child would be the saviour of his people. The angel calmed her fears by telling her that God would be with her and then the the story ends abruptly with “and the angel left her”.
What an anti-climax! There she was, pregnant, confused, and now seemingly abandoned. I think this line talks to me a lot because it reflects so many times in my life when I didn’t see a clear path forward. I tried to discern what action to take, but often the answer was slow in coming, or it seems like events came along and “took the decision from me”. Am I alone in this? I don’t think so, and I think that is why we hear Mary’s story with the “left high and dry” part at the end, and we instinctively understand it. It is so often our own story we are hearing.
Many years ago, I was finishing one assignment in Ireland and left free to return to Brazil. But should I go? My mother was widowed, elderly, not in great health and I had no siblings living in Ireland. What should I do? Recently I was looking back at this period of my life, and I realised that I was a bit like Mary, bewildered and confused. It took me months to decide, and I talked it over with many people. What pushed me to take the decision to return to Brazil in the end? I can’t remember, but I think I just took the best decision I could take at the time, knowing that neither decision was perfect. At times we just are called to muddle along.
God does not ask us to do the impossible, but as Mother Mary Martin said, “With God, all things are possible”. The secret is to believe that God is with us, whether we feel his presence or not. When we truly rely on God’s strength, wisdom, and care, we can relax and just do the best we can. That is all that is asked of us. I am sure Mary took up the months of her pregnancy still with many questions – but she didn’t feel sorry for herself and become wrapped up in her own difficulties. She saw her cousin, Elizabeth’s need and went in haste to help her.
Today I don’t ask for clarity, just for the comfort of knowing that I am not alone. I can look outwards because God is with me.