Dear Friends of AOR,
Earlier in the week, I shared this poem with a group of senior health care leaders whom I have the privilege of teaching this semester. On this Feast of the Immaculate Conception, may you find blessing here, too.
As the Christian Church turns itself toward the Season of Advent this weekend, I offer you a poem that I hope that you will take time to reflect on as well. Our focus has been on Jesus, and rightly so. This poem invites us to reflect on the one human being who made the manifestation of Jesus in the flesh possible. As you consider the poet’s words about Mary, I invite you to think about Advent as a season were we are all invited by God’s messengers, unlikely angels perhaps, who approach us with surprising news, impossible offers, and possibly the one opportunity to bear into the world a light we did not know we could bear…
May you be blessed,
Sr. Colleen Mary
‘Hail, space for the uncontained God’ (From the Agathistos Hymn, Greece, VIc)
We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost 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
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.
Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
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,
a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
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.