In the latest issue of the Century, Philip Jenkins writes about how the veneration of Mary cuts across religious difference in Egypt. Egypt was the place where Mary first lit up the imaginations of Christians, but apparently her appeal is not limited by culture or religious heritage. Lately I’ve come across a couple of enchanting books that illuminate this for me.
I once read Luke 1 on a park bench during a jazz festival. I was practicing the art of reading scripture in an unusual location to see what this reveals in a familiar text. I pictured Mary as a jazz singer.
A flash of colored wing; peacock, pheasant brilliance— turquoise, scarlet, green, bronze, settled soft to downy quiet. Then he spoke a greeting, the same tone as the deepest bell.
He addressed her as favored. Favored? By what? By whom? Even her wonder and her awe did not erase her reason. They conversed between two worlds until she clearly understood.
When she consented and he left, she wondered how her world would be able to wear such brightness. His words still rang the spring air and one, which seemed the sum of all, resounded, rounded, and remained.