It feels like appropriate timing that this message is coming to you on the first day of summer, when the sun shifts into the constellation of Cancer, the zodiac sign of the Great Mother.
The Mother shows us how to receive. (Because we already know how to avoid.)
My very favorite narrative in the New Testament (coming from a formerly lax atheist suburban Philly Jewess) is a sneaky lesson in receiving. That is, we witness the great earthly mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, coming to meet her Divinely-inspired vocation:
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. (Luke 1)
You know, it’s truly difficult to listen to God sometimes. Especially when, to our logical minds, it just freaking makes no sense.
Take a moment to place yourself in Mary’s shoes. What happens when the Divine pursues you? Or when an angel comes to you and says: you are blessed?
Mary was chosen to be the vehicle for a sacred life. You and me are chosen to be the vehicle of something else. I would venture that it is no less sacred when placed in service to a higher purpose.
Yet even knowing this on an intellectual level, our grasping, striving minds will still seek any way to delay, sabotage, and avoid the (ahem) Angel in the Room.
Why are we so troubled?
We do we doubt?
Why do we hide?
The Noisy Imposter
Mary herself was troubled. Taking some exegetical license, it is reasonable to assume that Mary’s thoughts would resemble ours in a similar situation: she is overcome with fear, doubt, and unworthiness.
It is one version of Imposter Syndrome:
Who am I to undertake such a thing?
Blessed?? Right, whatever.
I’m just a regular person.
I have no idea what I’m doing.
I didn’t ask for this.
I’m not certified for this particular task.
No one will listen.
What will they say??
It doesn’t really matter what I do/say/think.
I am not properly equipped.
Um, isn’t that impossible?
It’s funny, that when we actually finally receive the Divine calling we have been yearning for, our first instinct is to ball up in fear when it comes to responding.
Yet how can we respond to our personal vocation when we are stuck in a loop of fear that we are not worthy for the undertaking? Like Mary in line 29??
Well, Line 29-Mary is hesitating, just like we do, as we stare out over the chasm of our Big Leap: should we or shouldn’t we?
I know this place well. It is horrible. It is real. It is also an inevitable part of the creative process of life.
But there is a grace here for all of us, encouraging our way forward, even though it may not be perceived by our senses.
It is a Gabrielic cloak of protection, a shield of light which harbors the knowing heart from its deepest fears, those which threaten to hold us back from making our Divine commitment. This is a choice we simply cannot avoid forever.
The Sacred Yes
But Mary does not settle into her fears for long. Within the blink of an eye, she makes the shift. She hears, digests, understands, and ultimately surrenders her sacred YES.
It is Line 38-Mary who says: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.”
Ok, then, I will receive what is intended for me.
And in that moment of sheer courageous will, Mary becomes available for the Holy Spirit to bring forth life, through her life.
Even without the details.
Even without the confirmation.
Even without one iota of evidence that she is qualified.
Mary is demonstrating what I call Radical Generosity: becoming the vehicle for something much bigger than your ego, consciously shared with the world in integrity, despite any surety of outcomes.
Simply because the Divine called you to do it.
Seth Godin (who I love) says in The Practice: “Art is something we get to do for other people.” It’s generous. We learn how to get out of the damn way so that the delivery of our creative output is not mired in egoic impairment and interference.
Radical Generosity means that we offer ourselves as a vehicle for the Divine’s creative impulse, intermingled with our talents, tastes, and genius. But we actually have to share our stuff.
I know you’re thinking: Oh crap.
(That is probably the same thing that Line 29-Mary thought, too.)
Because the Imposter would shoot you down and barricade your progress, flagging you off-course, away from the Unknown, gilding your secure attachments to worldly things (even when they are toxic), and keeping you out of “harm’s way.”
However, my personal impression of honoring the inner Divine has been known to include liberation from suffering, radiant prosperity, and an honest-to-goodness deep gladness in my bones.
But the way forward is not straightforward.
Angels are tricky to spot, sometimes. The mind is always going to lure you back into something you’re used to (even if it sucks). And our ego voice is 1000x louder than our intuition, that gentle wind of the higher mind that no one ever (maddeningly) tells you about.
The Imposter will shout and scream to keep you diverted. However, I would take it as a sign that you are super close to something important when she does.
So here is a practice: meet your Imposter face to face. Befriend her. Hold her hand and offer her thanks: I know you’re scared, this is a big leap. We can absolutely do it. We are blessed. There really is no other alternative other than to surrender to what I am called to be, share, and do.
“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Line 37)
This is a radiant moment in the cycle of our year to honor the Great Mother in you. She is both fallible and worthy. She is capable of receiving something wonderful and important. She is, indeed, highly favored.
May you receive the enlightenment of your purpose.
May you be inspired to step into your Divine calling.
May you be filled with the spirit of Radical Generosity.
May you be blessed with the chutzpah to share your genius with the rest of us.