The Scripture ~ In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:
Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.
Luke 1:26-28 The Message
The Spiritual Focus ~ “Christianity has the highest theology of the body, and the lowest practice.” Fr. Tom Ryan
The Breath Prayer ~ Inhale ~ God is with me, Exhale ~ God is with all
The Devotion ~ The spiritual focus from Fr .Tom Ryan, Paulist priest, yogi and mentor to
Yogadevotion from the earliest days, gives us pause. We bear witness to “the body” in many of our faith practices or stories, and yet, we tend to physically locate ourselves outside of these stories, especially if the stories are familiar. There is Baptism, Holy Communion, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, to name a few faith narratives, but it all begins with the incarnation. Incarnation is God becoming human in the birth narrative of Jesus. For many this is where the story starts but in this Advent season, let us embody the Christmas narrative through Mary’s story.
Our scripture begins the story of the incarnation with a visit from the angel Gabriel to Mary. It would be easy to manipulate this story into a discussion about angels and Mary’s unmarried virginal status, but to embody the story we must pause to imagine ourselves in the story. Imagine our 13 year-old selves, regardless of gender, being chosen by God to BE the one in whom a radically new thing is about to happen. This radically new thing isn’t something that we can compartmentalize in logic. It is something that not only tests our emotional flexibility but involves physical availability to God’s Presence. The unity of body, mind and spirit open up this story to reveal God’s nature and love.
A yoga practice connects us to our bodies and helps us untangle our thoughts so we can meditate and embody God’s Presence. To hear the poetry in the story of Gabriel visiting Mary is comforting. To embody the story, however, is to hear the words spoken to Mary as if spoken to us. “You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out! God be with you.”