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  • Writer's picture Patricia Masters

Annunciation

My holiday offering is a poem from Denise Levertov called Annunciation. I invite you to read it over a few times, letting it sink into your depths.



Annunciation By Denise Levertov


We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,

always a lectern, a book;

always the tall lily.


Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,

the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering.

whom she acknowledges, a guest.


But we are told of meek obedience. No one

mentions courage.

The engendering Spirit

did not enter without consent.

God waited.

She was free to accept or to refuse,

choice integral to humanness.


Aren’t there annunciations of

one sort or another

in most lives?

Some unwillingly

undertake great destinies,

enact them in sullen pride,

uncomprehending.

More often those moments

when roads of light and storm

open from darkness in a man or woman,

are turned away from in dread,

in a wave of weakness, in despair

and with relief.

Ordinary lives continue.

God does not smite them.

But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.


She had been a child who played, ate,

slept like any other child —

but unlike others,

wept only for pity,

laughed in joy not triumph.

Compassion and intelligence

fused in her, indivisible.


Called to a destiny more momentous

than any in all of Time,

she did not quail,

only asked a simple,

“How can this be?”

and gravely, courteously,

took to heart the angel’s reply,

receiving instantly

the astounding ministry

she was offered:


to bear in her womb

infinite weight and lightness;

to carry in hidden, finite inwardness,

nine months of eternity;

to contain in slender vase of being,

the sun of power —

in narrow flesh,

the sum of light.

Then bring to birth,

push out into air, a Man-child

needing, like any other,

milk and love —

but who was God.


The Annunciation, in the Christian faith, is the announcement of the incarnation of Jesus. Mary, the mother of Jesus, offers a beautiful template for: bravely welcoming the messenger, the angel Gabriel, who told her she was chosen to be the vessel for God; a willingness to accept the sacred flow and put aside her ego dominance; and a conscious consent. Conscious because she knew the path would require surrender, strength, steadfastness, necessary suffering and an emptying of self to become the vessel to birth the Divine. The consent, “may it be done to me according to your word,” that Mary declared to Gabriel arose from faith, compassion, intelligence and great courage.


As humans on the path of wisdom, we all have had or will have experience with some sort of annunciation... times in our lives when we are given the opportunity to go deeper, inward in search of our truths and our communion with the sacred. The messenger may not be an angel but a pivotal emotional experience, a depression, a loss or an anxiety… experiences that our culture tells us to remove ourselves from posthaste. But in doing so, the portal to our deepest selves remains closed. Paradoxically, if we can welcome and hold these messengers and brave the groundlessness of the liminal space, these states give us the opportunity to go deeper, beneath our suffering ego selves to another dimension, one where we commune with “infinite weight and lightness” and give birth to our true selves ... en Cristo.


Holiday blessings to you all!

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