Good Friday retreat: Losing our wings
There is a curious 14th-century sculpture
of the angel Gabriel
in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Attributed to Nino Pisano of Tuscany,
the Angel of the Annunciation
gazes down upon you
as he would the Virgin Mary.
A close inspection of this wooden statue, however,
reveals that it has through the centuries, sustained much damage.
It has lost its halo and – worse – both its wings.
It has also – most significantly – lost Mary.
Art scholars tell us that this statue
would have formed a group that included Mary.
What I find most touching is this:
Though completely wingless,
Gabriel remains standing there,
his face solemn with the gravity of his mission,
his chest, we imagine, bursting with the divine news.
Even more importantly,
he has stayed there
even if Mary is no longer there.
Much – so much! – has transpired since that moment of moments:
Mary has long gone
to live out her Annunciation,
through a life that has turned out
to be marked with faith as much as with questions,
a life wrapped with joy as much as with tears.
This wingless angel of the Annunciation
reminds us of an important truth:
Life, more often than not,
has a way of making us lose our wings
and bruise our hearts.
We can opt to fight it,
kicking and screaming,
refusing to let go
till our last breath.
But such a battle – a losing battle at that –
only embitters us.
Or we can – with great graciousness
and greater generosity –
do what the Lord himself did on Good Friday:
Agree to shed our wings,
and forego our flights.
Again, this Good Friday invitation
is far from easy to accept
and even tougher to follow.
Feather vector via Shutterstock