Mary’s Word (Feast of the Annunciation)
With a sound of distant thunder
the rainbow-eyed stranger
spoke to me. She
called me “favored one,”
and that made me stop in mid-step.
Just this morning I’d been
a beast of burden hauling water
for the entire household
so that my soon-to-be mother-in-law
could weigh again the bargain that had been struck
for my labor, present and future.
I could still hear my father
walking away, his pockets jingling,
the matter settled.
And for once in my life
now I was presented a proposal,
just as a dove slid down
a shaft of sunlight, revealing
lilies in the ditch,
more radiant than Solomon
in his rumored glory.
No fool, at first
I didn’t speak, much less
She appeared again
as I was spinning flax into thread–
poppies nodding at her feet,
the lilies this time an offering
beneath star-flecked wings
flexed half-open, ready to depart or remain
at my response.
The frosted fields had just begun to green
after winter’s bony grip slackened, yet
the sweet smell of honeysuckle
and rose swirled improbably (only
in my mind?)
with each incredible word
that pulled the tides of my
presumed future moon-ward:
favored by God,
a son with a name like
light and breath.
conditional to human consent.
“Who am I
to contain such grace?” My
heart filled with wonder, mind
reeling with choices that I’d never
held in my grasp before. It was
the kindness there, the honor
that gleamed in the angel’s eyes
that rose over the tattoo of my heart
and tempered wonder to resolve.
The choice was mine to make.
The gates of my assent swung wide.
I startled myself
with the sureness of that leap within
my heart. Yes
to bearing the joy, the questions and pain, yes
to Eternity enclosed and growing
beneath my heart’s tempest and flame,
yet my spirit also hovered as if afloat
on the breath of God
who enters only after
my offered “yes”
–THAT was the Word made flesh.
The pulse within me responded,
Before words formed on my lips,
before the spindle fell
from tingling fingers
and I sighed the song
that would frame my life
and burst loose the narrow orbit
I had once inhabited.
In that instant, I knew too
he would be my son, yet
never mine alone.
Assent brought ascent. My eyes raised
to sizzled rasp of receding wingbeat;
the eddied air swirled and reeled.
The messenger departed
bearing my gift
after she nodded and rose, leaving me
this first treasure of many
for the storehouse of my heart.
Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO. She posts prayers, meditations, and sermons at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers