Another Government announcement, another restriction
And now our churches are shut even for private prayer and adoration. Finding somewhere to pray at home is also difficult, with so many more people in the house on a full-time basis. The dining room has someone in it working from home with video conferencing etc, and it’s my minimalist son who can’t have anything remotely personal in shot, so we can’t keep things in there or colonise any of the space. Not that there is much, as we are still unpacking, but now the charity shops are also shut, so we can’t even give things away.
The sitting room has my husband working from home and building little heaps of important relevant papers to trip the unwary; upstairs we have one Seriously Vulnerable who needs her bedroom and the bathroom exclusively, and on the top floor one who’s working digitally from home but needs the top floor loo exclusively because also self-isolating with a chest infection so as not to hurt the S.V. ). That’s two loos out of four out of commission, plus the only bathroom, so the shower is in constant use, and the healthy ones have to manage in what space is left. It’s not only uninterrupted space to pray that is at a premium!
At least inside the household we don’t have to do self-distancing, or some of us would be permanently in the garden; and at least the weather is improving so that we can use the garden a bit more even than last week. But we feel that our space is shrinking all the time.
God likes gardens
Thank God for the garden; we are very lucky to have one. Lots of pictures of the Annunciation take place in gardens or on verandas, because of all the flower symbolism and the references to a new Eden, and I’m looking at them even more carefully this year.
Tomorrow is the Annunciation, that lovely feast of Our Lady, so I will be trying to think about that instead, even if we can’t go to Mass. We’ve just had St Joseph’s feast, which we almost missed in all the confusion, and now Mary enters the stage, but so quietly that we have to make an effort to grasp the cosmic significance of what is going on. The account is in Luke’s Gospel, which means that Mary is potentially the source of the detail (I don’t want to overstate this, because we can’t actually be sure).
God’s angel comes to a town called Nazareth, small and unexciting (‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ John 1.46), and irrupts into Mary’s life with no preparation, talking at some length. I talked about the Annunciation at some length last year ( here’s the link ) , so I’m not going to do it again, but I would just like to stress how very little she says, compared to the angel. She simply asks how what the angel predicts can happen, as it is not within normal human boundaries; and once the angel explains that God will see to all that, she just says yes. What perfect trust. She starts the scene ‘deeply disturbed’ by the angel’s greeting, but surely God would have given her confidence and serenity by the end of it.
Hoping and praying the only answer
She puts herself into God’s hands, even though she has no idea what will happen next. It’s what we do whenever we make a vow, like marriage, for example. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. Like a hobbit, you put your foot out into the road for the first step, but you don’t know where the road will lead you, and even more where it may end. We certainly don’t at the moment. All we can do is trust ourselves to God and ask Our Lady to share some of her confidence with us. And try and find somewhere reasonably quiet to pray for ourselves and everyone else.