Known but to God

December 12, 2021 | Lisa Prince

About the author: Lisa has been a part of ZPC for over 25 years with her husband Mel and their 3 sons. ZPC, in all its seasons, has been a great gift to them. She and Mel now run a retreat house in Zionsville where they live with their two cats, Miss Minnie and JuJu and their faithful golden retriever, Dickens. Lisa has been a spiritual director for 20 years.

Lo, in the silent night
A child to God is born
And all is brought again
That ere was lost or lorn.
Could but thy soul, O man,
Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright.
-15th Century

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord Himself is my strength and my defense He has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the well of salvation. In that day you will say, “give praise to the Lord, proclaim His Name, make known among the nations what He has done and proclaim that His Name is exalted. Sing to the Lord for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
Isaiah 12:2-6

Our Lord had much to say in the gospels about drawing water from the well. He understood our thirst. He gives himself as the “living water” that quenches our interior longing (see John 4). In this Advent season of hope and expectation the angels of God again renew the message of Love among us. This year I have again felt inspired by the silent and unassuming life of the prophetess Anna, who for me is a powerful witness to that life of joyfully drawing water from the interior well of which Isaiah speaks. 

And there was a prophetess Anna. she was advanced in years having lived with her husband seven years… and then was a widow… she was 84. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day fasting and praying.
Luke 2:36-38

She is old. Her life is now far spent and marked by the holy stance of waiting and watching. We see this stance often in scripture. This contemplative life is her calling as it is for many who have come after her. This is not a call for everyone, to be sure. Many are called to a more active life. But for those marked by this charism, like Mary of Bethany (Luke 10) it becomes a life of longing and singular purpose that unfolds into genuine love (Salvation). For Anna, her vision was blessed to unfold into physical witness. She comes to the temple at the same moment with Simeon as the child Jesus is being presented there. Being a woman, I cannot help but imagine that like Simeon, she too took the Baby into her arms and praised God for what her soul silently and inconceivably understood in that moment. While Simeon’s prayer in that moment is recorded for all time, her prayer is known only to God.

Anna’s contemplative life encourages me. She waits with great patience and devotion. She is dedicated, trusting and (unlike me) she is unafraid to live out her calling with full abandon. Anna knows the Lord as the strength of her very peculiar life because she has drawn from the water of the well that is Christ within her. Thomas Kelly In his classic work, A Testament of Devotion, speaks to this interior element of Christian life: “Such practice of inward orientation, of inward worship and listening… is the heart of religion. It is the secret, I am persuaded, of the inner life of the Master of Galilee. He expected this secret to be freshly discovered in everyone who would be His follower.”

While we patiently wait in this season of Advent the quiet angels of the annunciation surround us. They are not the same as the louder angels of jubilation that come at Christmas. There is a balance to all things and the hush and reserve of these early heralds welcomes us to prepare our hearts to listen and our eyes to see what shall come. The silent and unnoticed angels of Advent speak their blessing into the midst of our impatience and distractedness and scatter their seeds of blessing which begin to grow in the middle of our winter nights. They proclaim to us a miracle - that God is indeed Salvation, for Merciful Love has come. They whisper to us, “nothing at all is impossible with God.” May we be found waiting, watching, and listening.