And we will hear Mary’s song next week, which is Gaudete Sunday – rejoicing, joy our theme. Mary rejoices in God who does not abandon Their people.
Pervading both Gabriel’s ‘do not fear’ and Mary’s song of joyful praise is peace.
Because that ‘do not fear’ contains hope for the world. For peoples like Mary’s Hebrews / Israel, that oppression, fear, death, don’t have the final say. That God is present, sees, hears, remembers.
You – plural, you all – do not need to be afraid. God is here.
That is hope. Hope that grits its teeth and endures through adversity. Hope that frees slaves into singing from the cotton fields; liberates prisoners in camps into acts of generous, dangerous, kindness for one another. Hope that lifts us beyond the struggle so as to equip us for the struggle. Because the struggle remains; new struggles arrive again and again.
And there is, of course, joy in the hope that keeps us going. A soul liberated beyond the present captivity sings joys our captors do not understand; even we ourselves do not fully understand, but we know, feel, we embrace it.
There is gift in that do not fear, that you need no longer be afraid.
Because life is beyond what we know. Life transcends its earthly limitations.
breathe in deep
breathe out slowly
And there – there – is the peace
We begin with the peace we feel, ourselves, each one, embracing the liberation of God’s incarnation, God’s offer of hope, and what it means for us in our circumstances to know we are free, we are alive!
We begin there, but peace does not end there
I read an article in The Atlantic this week about toxic positivity – the ‘think positive’, ‘stay positive’ platitudes that seek to minimise, ignore, dismiss struggle and hardship. The author (Scott Barry Kaufman) presented an alternative – ‘tragic optimism’. In which you acknowledge the struggle and move through it. It’s a posture of processing traumatic events that opens us up to growth, to a shift in worldview, discovery of meaning.