Luke 1:26-38 (NRSVUE) 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”[a] 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”[b] 35 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[c] will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
I wonder if the pretty plant in the above photo, Physotegia Virgiana, is named for Mary. It certainly seems symbolic. Nature can teach us, but one wonders how this plant demonstrates obedience. It certainly does not adhere to civil laws but can be a nuisance in cultivated gardens because it spreads out of control. It is also called False Dragonhead, perhaps because of its resemblance to snapdragons. It is however true to its own nature, growing towards the light and blossoming every year. It makes me realize the need for laws to keep us in check, keep us in the best flower bed where rich soil will grow us.
We need to be cultivated in holistic ways. Obedience to God is a common religious theme intended to grow us into wise healthy people who are unique individuals but also able to live and participate in community.
However, obedience to God has many ramifications. Who would not want to be obedient to an all-loving, all-wise, all-powerful being who has our welfare in mind and wants the best for us and for all people? This God gives us presents that please us, and freedom to make our own mistakes, and gently nudges us towards universal harmony.
But what happens when our concept of God is limited, and how can it be otherwise unless we are--well--God?
It’s one thing to be obedient to civil law--without it, there would be chaos. But the notion of obedience to God has created submission without freedom, and killing without mercy, along with numerous other dangerous behaviors.
The source of life and growth, God, is a great mystery. It is unwise to think we’ve got the answers. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that my understanding is always changing. I must rely on the wisdom of others to keep me within bounds. But I can trust a greater source (God/Mystery) than myself to set me and all others on the right path to personal and universal peace.