You left your sandals behind for the short walk
To the well with your earthen pitcher,
Small billows of dust with every step
A song arose as you returned
Lovely whole notes; you sang,
Filling the wide dome of air around you
Water dampening the ground
The vessel, spilling over,
You are incandescent
With your heart song
You step over
The threshold’s pounded earth,
Pass into soft light within,
Set your pitcher on the table,
Turn toward the window,
Near the cool brown of the wall,
A shimmering flame,
An utterance of light saying:
Do not be afraid . . .
Full of Grace . . .
You quake, yet feel substantial,
Here am I. . . Let it Be
A luminous word, your simple yes, alive
In the room, in your song; your bare feet
Firmly on the earthy floor . . .
This poem is my envisioning of the Annunciation, the account in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 1:26–38) of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary and announcing that she will bear the Christ Child of God and will name him Jesus. She is a young woman, unmarried but engaged to an older man named Joseph. In the poem I intentionally painted a young Mary who was in the fullness of her self, and free.
Mary’s virginity is a topic of both reverence and controversy. The common understanding of the word “virgin” is a woman who has not had sex (males and gender-queer people may be given this label as well, but traditionally it is ascribed to females). But this word can be much more expansive than this conventional meaning. The word, “virgin” in its deepest essence means “unattached,” or “one in oneself.” It may be understood as a state of freedom from attachment.
Rather than focusing on the idea that Mary became pregnant without having sexual intercourse with a man, perhaps we might note that Mary agreed to respond to the angel’s invitation and then to participate in the birthing of someone who was extraordinary in this world. A beautiful gift.
We might consider that each of us is capable of responding to what wants to be born within us and then to “give birth,” or bring into being, something that is a gift to the world. What we need to do is to listen within, be open to possibilities, and become self-possessed — not in a self-focused way, but in a way that one is free to give oneself away.
As we come to know ourselves more deeply, we may be inspired to change something in our life or to create something new. Perhaps there is something you have always wanted to engage in, a deep urge or gift that is unrealized. It may be scary or unsettling to accept the inspiration or yearnings that arise within you. It will take courage to free yourself to say “yes” to this spark within and take the risk of allowing it to consume you.
What kinds of “holy mysteries” might be asking to come alive within you?