Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Blue Door

Among the Orthodox, Mary Theotokos the God bearer is the first to understand that the time is now. Hers are the first ears that hear the divine messenger, whispering that the way out of madness is at hand, in her hands, to be precise. Mary is in every way a threshold guardian, a liminal being. She is the gateway between human and divine, heaven and earth. One of her attributes is the Blue Door. Blue is the color of Heaven and the door represents the narrow passage between the two. The Blue Door is indistinguishable from the surrounding sky unless you know exactly where to look. Mary knew where to look. Mary could hear the angel's voice amid the haste and clamor of the world. She herself became the narrow way by which the Divine entered. In every spiritual tradition is this sense that the way out, or the way in, is a tight one.

All faith traditions are suspicious of the broad boulevard with its gleaming headlights and bright displays, its call to lose ourselves in its otherness. But again, do not be hasty in your conclusions. Contrary to the television series "Mad Men," Madison Avenue is not necessarily the road to perdition. Nor are hours of reflection and a good ascetic work out at the gym the way of salvation. God is not so obvious. The narrow way can be a dead end, and the world a cathedral. God loves the world. Since God is everywhere, it is not so much about God as it is about my ability to see. As it happend, the television series "Mad Men" showed me truths I could have never otherwise seen.

As Eugene Peterson writes in 2007’s most beautiful Advent book, God with Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, (Paraclete Press), “Every year Christmas comes around again and forces us to deal with God in the context of demanding and inconvenient children; gatherings of family members, many of whom we spend the rest of the year avoiding; all the crasser forms of greed and commercialized materiality; garish lights and decorations. Or maybe the other way around: Christmas forces us to deal with all the mess of our humanity in the context of God who has already entered that mess in the glorious birth of Jesus.” The important word here is "already." It's here. The Messiah never dies. It's here. It's about time.

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