CAN’T START A FIRE WITHOUT A SPARK


“…And Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this be, since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.’” (Lk 1: 34-37)

The unsung hero of this story, I think, is the Holy Spirit. It is He Who enables a teen-aged virgin from Nazareth, despite Mary’s questions and confusion in the face of the strange news of the archangel, to conceive and give birth to the eternal Word of God in this world.

Now, please forgive me for some unconventional thoughts on this central moment in Salvation History. But it reminds me in general of our human, creative process. It is impossible to conceive, and give birth to, anything good in this world, I think, without that “spark” of the Holy Spirit. As Bruce Springsteen notes in his profound song about his own writing-process (Dancing in the Dark): “I ain't nothing but tired,” he says, “Man I'm just tired and bored with myself / …I could use just a little help / You can't start a fire without a spark…”

As we praise and magnify the Most-Holy Theotokos today, on this wonderful Saturday of the Akathist, let me embrace the Holy Virgin’s openness to, and faith in, the Holy Spirit, with Whom “nothing will be impossible.” I re-connect with Him today, in heartfelt prayer, as I approach my work, rather than isolate myself from God’s creative energies in self-reliance, being “bored with myself.” Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. Amen!

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