when i was in spain my sophomore year of college, my mom and i bought identical posters at el museo prado in madrid. she has always loved religious art and was a big fra angelico fan. i too was struck by fra angelico’s annunciation as i stood before it. we both have his work framed and hanging on our walls… one of many things we share.
fra angelico was a painter and a friar. as a friar, he didn’t profit personally from his masterpieces. he did what he did and used his talents for the glory of God alone. his paintings are one more way he was able to share a message, and continues to share that message today even after his death.
so i was looking at my poster of the virgin of the annunciation this morning, but somehow saw it differently. in the painting, on the left one sees in the background adam and eve leaving the garden of eden… the fall of man. in the foreground, one see the angel gabriel in the center speaking to mary on the right. one also sees the Holy Spirit descending on mary as a dove. in the past, i’ve always thought of this as two stories… the fall of man and the redemption of man. today, however, i see them as significantly integrated. it’s not that we should choose to be less like adam and eve and more like mary. mary was human too. instead we should choose to allow God to use us in spite of (perhaps because of) our own humanness. adam and eve in the background are not a reminder of what not to be, they are a reminder of who we are. and yet God chooses to use us, knowing better than anyone who we really are. better than we know ourselves.
for me, this serves as a reminder that despite what i think of myself and the doubts that go along with that, God seems to think He can use me. it feels counter intuitive. it’s a little scary. it’s a call to trust God a lot more than i trust myself.