Mary’s Word

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.

“Favored one.”

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

laugh, but

hurried home.

She appeared again

as I was spinning flax into thread–

poppies nodding at her feet,

the lilies this time an offering

shoulders shadowed

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. 

Unconditional love,

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,

I am

the hand

maid of

the Lord

Most High.

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.

Jesus

Jesus

Jesus

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

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