“Wisdom is not what you know about the world but how well you know God. There is no greater time to grow in an intimate knowledge of God than when you are going through hard times.” (Henry Blackaby)
Dear Friends In Christ,
~Being led by light and love - Meditating with Mary~
Henry Ossawa Tanner was the first African American artist who achieved international recognition. Tanner’s father, an African Methodist Episcopal minister, was instrumental in his early work. Established as a salon artist in Paris, Tanner’s work encompassed many religious themes. One of his paintings was gifted to me by a dear church member and I meditate on it daily. As I am drawn to Mary, notice her surroundings and focus upon the light which seems perplexing. The light is what captures me every day when I enter my office. In “The Annunciation,” Mary is looking toward the light or perhaps Gabriel. This pivoting moment in her story is captured by the artist as Mary answers, Yes to God. Yes, God, I will go wherever you send me; Yes, I will listen to Gabriel and Yes, because I love and trust only in you God, I will with great joy give birth to your Son, the Savior of the world. Mary’s facial expression shows an inquisitive, yet calm presence. Through Tanners’s work he seems to capture her at the point of revelation-a revelation which would forever change her life and the life of others. Mary is captured as a humble peasant girl and the white light from the picture seems different each time I have used it for meditation. Initially, I only saw a white line which I understood to be Gabriel, but later I saw the light forming a cross. To me it was God indicating to Mary, “I am asking you to do something extraordinary for the world; but you need to know this journey will be difficult, it will be painful, it will end at the cross. But do not fear dear Mary, love will lead the way and will take you through unknown territories”. Mary's acceptance would include a cross that she would bear as God’s handmaid, as well as the cross her son would die upon. Today, the very same light of God is available to each of us and it offers us the same promises. We each will have a cross to bear as we move through the borderlands of life. Today, as we pattern our lives based upon the agape love Jesus practiced, we too have an opportunity to change lives, all through the lens of love. Through love we will be invited into unknown places and will be called to be light and torchbearers of hope. Like Mary, our stories will be shared with future generations to strengthen their faith and trust through God’s provision of light and love. For it is God’s light and love which will always soothe our doubts and fears; comfort us when we lose our way and strengthen us to walk with the blessed assurance that God is always with us.
Link to Tanners’ Annunciation: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henry_Ossawa_Tanner_-_The_Annunciation.jpg
Meditation edited from author’s original submittal to Forward Movement.