Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ave Maria and the Eternal Dance

Even as a Seventh-day Adventist, the music that made my spirit soar in a delicate, yet piercing, yearning for my Lord was Bach/Gounod’s Ave Maria. I felt such an uncomfortable spirituality in it. Yet, in defiance of even my own conscience, I sang it for my senior vocal recital at an Adventist University and promised the Lord it really was for Him. Since only a few family members showed up, it didn’t cause scandal although the song was censored for a while in the SDA church I attended. 
I hummed it for years without the “idolatrous words” or in Latin so I couldn’t understand what I was saying. Happily, I discovered a version with Protestant lyrics I sang at church  but it left my heart empty.
For decades, I wondered WHAT was wrong with me? I wept at almost all Ave Maria’s-- Totus Tuus, Shubert, Caccini, Biebl. It seemed blasphemous that the sweetest, most exquisite sounds ever dreamed were about Mary and not Jesus. I would grab my chest in agony and apologize to Him.
Then one morning, with Haley Westerna singing Ave Maria in the background, in an ascending, sublime prayer I broke out into sobs, torn between the ethereal ecstasy of the music and guilt, when He spoke.

“Fear not. You are hearing my voice, Teresa.” 
Dearest, dearest... can you be speaking? Is that Your voice to sooth my anguish?

He continued, “When you hear Ave Maria, you are hearing My love song to my mother. You are witnessing the voice of God, the voice of the creator of the universe honoring through the archangel Gabrielle, the little Jewish girl, His mother.” 
He told me that I am privileged to listen to the greatest love song of all eternity. As once long ago, a young woman led the world into disaster with her disobedience, so now in these words, “Hail, full of Grace,” Jesus honors a young woman chosen of all women who have breathed upon the earth, to bear the Savior and be the instrument of salvation to all the world with her obedience.
This Ave Maria moment was the beginning of the Mystery kept hidden from the foundations of the world. We, finally, could see the genesis of the New Covenant of grace, a new beginning for mankind. The fullness of God’s infinite love for us begun with  Mary would culminate in the cross and the resurrection of Christ. What sorrow was begun with Eve was comforted, healed and redeemed with Mary. 
“You love her so much, don’t you, Jesus?” Knowing the tender affection reserved only for my own mother, I felt somewhat left out and crestfallen at my presumptuousness that  I could enter that kind of intimate Love that Jesus had for His mother. 
He quietly explained that I can yet not handle the Love I see between Mary and Himself, but He wants us to ponder it nonetheless because in these scenes of tenderest love there is the promise of what we shall have in heaven. We will join in this love story that surpasses all shadows we play out here on earth.

We cannot experience but a mere taste of celestial love here, because of our human nature. Mary was perfect and a soul without sin has no boundaries for experience. While our physical nature simply collapses under too much stimuli either good or bad, Mary’s can withstand the power of God’s love unfiltered. What we would find unendurable, killing us, Mary’s infinite capacity for love can receive. 
God’s love of Mary, we who have accepted His love, will one day be shared by us when we have a limitless spirit. As we look upon this immortal dance of the Groom and His Bride, as we ponder it in our hearts, we learn that one day our obedience will lead to a crown being placed upon our heads, that we will share in the glorious eternal dance with our Father. Then we will hear His voice singing to us... “Hail, full of grace.”