Walking through the Tutankhamen exhibit at the Pacific Science Center a few days ago was a feast of storytelling through art. While standing next to statues and hieroglyphs that I had previously only seen in my art history books, I was deeply touched to be walking next to “stories” from humans from so long ago. Our deep enjoyment of story-telling and story-receiving has been part of being human for as long as we have records of humans.
We are in a season of stories—traditions around all the solstice-related celebrations include many stories. Each story invites us to experience the world from a different viewpoint. Each year at this time, as I hear stories from so many traditions, I remember one of Denise Levertov’s poems. She uses one of the seasons’ stories to celebrate the freedom of choice at the heart of our humanness. Here is an excerpt from her poem, “The Annunciation”….
We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.
But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent. God waited.
She was free
to accept or refuse, choice
integral to humanness.
Aren't there annunciations
of one sort or another in most lives?
Some unwillingly undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
More often those moments
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.
Celebrating our courage, and I am including the daily, perhaps mundane moments of courage along with the to the “life-changing” moments, could be a key to keeping our own gates open.