Mary didn’t plan to be the Mother of God. We are given no hint in the Gospels at what she did plan. It may have been an ordinary life, full of ordinary dreams: husband, children, home — dreams no less meaningful for being ordinary.
But then a winged Italian shows up one morning, brandishing a tulip, and tells her that God has a plan for her that she never imagined. And she accepts this divine plan. It is not a holy quest that she is offered, or an heroic mission. She is asked to play a part, to fulfil a rôle.
She could freak out; it would be an understandable reaction. But she doesn’t. She says, “Yeah, okay.” Her simple, faith-filled Fiat is a matchless model of acceptance, humbly and earnestly embracing a life unlike anything she had planned for or even imagined possible, and trusting in God to make it turn out.
I wanted my call to be as clear as Mary’s was. I waited for years for a definitive “This-is-what-God-wants-you-to-do-with-your-life” moment that I could respond to with my own Fiat. But that moment never came for me, nor for almost anyone else I know, in the seminary or out. It is tempting to say, “Well, it just doesn’t work that way,” but I hardly think I am qualified to make such a sweeping and heterodox assertion. So I will stick with the personal: it hasn’t worked that way for me.
And I am still learning to live with that, to be comfortable guiding my life by prayerful guesswork rather than certainty. I expected vocation and discernment to be matters of certainty, and maybe they are, and there will be a burning bush for me just around the next corner. But I don’t think so.
Mary, teach me to let go, to accept the path I have been set upon. Teach me, too, to be open to the subtle and quiet promptings of my soul, for it is there that my annunciation will be found. Help me to accept, and to bravely carry out, whatever plan God has for me.
Hmmm…Have you ever thought of setting your pen to a series of rosary meditations? Reading this latest post of yours, methinks it could be a good project for you, brother o’ mine.
The best way for me to know that I’m on the right path is when things keep going well and I’m surprised at how easy things are.
Does that make any sense?