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FINDING A GUIDING LIGHT

anne brittany book of hours

[left] The annunciation, artist unknown, Petites heures d'Anne de Bretagne (Little Book of Hours of Anne of Brittany), 1503. The featured image for 2010 is The annunciation from Petites heures d'Anne de Bretagne (Little Book of Hours of Anne of Brittany). The annunciation found in Luke 1:28 - 32 describes the visitation of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. In this story, the angel is sent by God to Nazareth to give Mary the news of the impending virgin birth. The annunciation is a popular motif in Christian art and is associated with the office of Matins in The little office of the blessed Virgin Mary.

 

Over the past several years I have explored the 'feminine' as it is expressed in art, collective values, and world mythology. During 2010 not only did I journal on the four synoptic gospels and several illuminated manuscripts but I continued my exploration of the feminine in my personal religious tradition, Christianity.

A vision quest is a sacred rite of passage found in the Native American tradition. In this ritual boys on the verge of manhood undertake an arduous wilderness experience which they believe will reveal their life's spiritual direction and calling. They also believe that during this rite they will find the guardian spirit who will guide and protect them through the rest of their life. This idea is one which resonates with 2010: a quest for the guiding feminine principal in my personal tradition. And any search for the feminine in Christianity will always lead to the complex figure of Mary.

At this writing the image that is strongest for me is that of the very young woman who has an encounter with an angel. Luke describes her in that moment as entirely human and her humanity speaks to me. She is tentative, afraid and puzzled by the instruction the angel brings but she commits to it nonetheless. I use the word 'commit' intentionally here because I believe that this moment is often interpreted as one of passive surrender rather than active commitment. This moment illustrates the traditional 'feminine' value of service to the collective good. But it is also a moment which illustrates the feminine passive coupled with the feminine active. In other words, surrender to the events which one cannot control while committing to how one will respond and act within those events. And that is the guiding light which I take with me from the past year's writing. I have selected a few highlights from the year and they follow next.

 

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