Years ago, when my mother-in-law discovered the Universal Living Rosary Association, I jumped in with her. Then, when the internet was just an amusement (as opposed to being part-and-parcel of how I work), we actually filled out a card and mailed it—USPS!—to commit to praying a decade of the rosary, every day. For the rest of my life.
It took a few weeks, but when I received my assignment in the mail, I was underwhelmed. The Annunciation? REALLY? Just what can I learn from an angel coming to Mary the Perfect?
I started, as I do with so many things, kicking and screaming, cynical and hesitant. To be honest, the mystery I wanted, the mystery I thought for sure I would be assigned, was the Visitation. I have all sorts of ties to that mystery.
Over the years, I've come to appreciate the Annunciation, and especially Mary's "Yes" more and more. I've come to appreciate the ongoing nature of her Yes, and it's become a lesson for me in my vocations of wife and mother.
I was never going to be a wife or a mother. I had no intention, back in my pre-Catholic days, of doing anything other than what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I had lived through divorce and I wanted no part of the failure I saw marriage as representing. And kids? Kids were not on my radar.
Now, my vocations give me plenty of opportunities to say Yes, following in Mary's example. I have lots of chances to let go of what I want and embrace what God's calling me to do.
If I'm honest, though, I still say "No" an awful lot. I say No to swallowing my critical comments, to having a good attitude, and to smiling past my discomfort. I say No to helping my husband with a project. I say No to listening to a child's concerns.
My responses aren't balanced the way they should be, just yet. There is still too much No in my approach to things. As I continue to try to follow Mary's lead, and her with my Yeses, I'm getting a better understanding of how very far I am from her.
Rather than lose hope, though, I find myself holding on tighter to her hand. I find myself gripping the Annunciation—and the rest of the mysteries of the rosary—like a lifeline. I find myself praying for the grace to say Yes, today, better than I did yesterday.
My journey to Yes will continue, but I'm not alone in it. Mary walks beside me, and as she leads me closer to her Son, she smiles over at me.
"Say Yes this time," she seems to say. "You can do it."