"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."
I love all the names in this verse. All the prepositional phrases laced with specific names. In reading this passage - which I have done repeatedly over the last couple of weeks - my brain wanted to stop and savor and pause over the proper nouns, and roll them around like pieces of a poem, like smooth individual pebbles you can hold in your hand: Gabriel, God, Galilee, Nazareth, Joseph, David, Mary, Lord. I could meditate on those words, the oils and breath of those words. I could stay there a long time, in all the bazillions of accrued meanings, the shades of colors and the wrinkles worn into those very familiar names.
Or, I could meditate on the angel. I could pause long over the shock of the angel, just the crazy fact of an angel appearing. But the truth is I'm doing those questions all the time, and answering them for myself, to prove to myself I'm not a fundamentalist dolt. I got an angel popping up in the reading, no problem. I don't have to pause long to have a response. Angels are how the infinite meets the finite, and what love is over time, and how energies don't die - the "All that is will always be" stuff f
rom physics. If anybody asked me, I'd have plenty to say about angels. I'd say that angels are beautifully true math problems, like the theorems that make Gabriel's Horn. Angels are shocking. So it this: That if you look at pictures in an embryology text book, you will see drawings of the sun: the path of the sperm cell through the corona radiata. It's an ovum at fertilization. What's shocking is it's also a drawing of the sun up in the sky. I'm fine with angels. Angels are God's thoughts. Angels are strangers who bring gifts. Angels are just a way to map distance and closeness, the heat between our far away stars and our inside cells.
It's believing the message that feels harder, the message from Gabriel: The Lord is with you. That it would ever be that personal. So I think that's my advent meditation. To keep hearing "The Lord is with you," and think about what that means.