An Advent Prayer of Consent

Mary said, “Let it be with me according to your word.”   
In her story—as much as we have of it,  
legend or tradition, myth or conjecture,  
hopefully holy spiritual imagination— 
Mary consented  
to a God initiated, 
God Proposal. 
She was wary. She wondered.  
Perplexed, perhaps she waivered  
as Gabriel kept angel-xplaining  
finally getting to the part about her cousin,  
Elizabeth, conceiving in old age. 
Then. Mary consented  
to conceiving and birthing God into the world,  
Were there other encounters in her life,  
as young as they say she was. 
Had she known Presence in some way before, 
That she somehow recognized the Message “O favored one”  
if not the messenger,  
if she was already familiar with the Logos, 
as divine Conversation. 
And then she went on— 
what other option did she have— 
in continuing the Conversation by living her consent. 
I wonder, God, did you console her?   
When her pregnancy became heavy and scandalous,  
when her grown son disappeared for 40 days,  
when his works lit a fire in others, 
some toward hope and justice,  
others toward a rage that did finally murder him.  
Did she trust you enough to weep and wail, 
to protest the rending of her own heart?   
And did you hold her, and console her? 
Did you stay with her in her fear and terror,  
her dread and sorrow? 
The miracle to me is 
Thirty plus years after her initial consent, 
Mary was able— 
in an upper room  
in the company of those who loved her son, 
who loved her— 
able to consent again to the Power of the Most High 
overshadowing her again,  
though this time she was not alone.  
Her friends were overshadowed as well. 
I have given my consent to you, God,  
not so much like Mary’s exactly  
but not unlike her either. 
To your multiple initiatives in my life, 
I’ve given you my Yes,  
as much as I knew how and,  
like Mary, without knowing the costs. 
It was not hard in the moment when hearing,  
‘I will make your life fruitful’  
though I did then and do now wonder with Mary,  
How can this be?   
It is one thing to consent to your initiative,  
your movement,  
your presence and action.  
It is another to flounder and fumble 
 and falter in my own. 
The continuous Invitation  
to Write has my full-hearted Yes. 
The confounding question for me,  
less about putting pen to page, 
is more about what it takes  
to bring forth,  
to bear the Essence painstakingly,  
approximate it in print 
in a vocabulary that is so inadequate. 
Just create, my friend said, we’ll figure it out. 
There is such arduous labor to bringing forth,  
and that only after  
a long gestation and lumbering steps.   
The consent to Love’s conception in me is  
the easy part of Yes.  
The Theotokos-ing  
confoundingly difficult. 
Where were you, God, in Mary’s labor?   
And are you still with me in mine?  
If you are the Labor,  
the Contraction,  
the Transition,  
if you are the panting Breath,  
help me like Mary 
live my consent  
to your giving birth and bringing forth  
the ChristLife in me 
and through me. 
My youth is long past spent.   
I am tired.  
But I feel the indefatigable desire for Presence, 
the Holy Eros of divine creation.  
There is heat still and heart in it.   
But, ah Mary, midwife thou me. 
j.nevills 12.10.23