The Feast of the Annunciation

annunciationMarch 25th, nine months before Christmas – the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus, is celebrated this day in Lent. So today’s Lenten poem from Education for Justice is
Annunciation by Denise Levertov.

This year, because we are in the midst of Holy Week,  the feast has been transferred to April 8th. But I don’t mind celebrating twice! 😉


‘Hail, space for the uncontained God’ From the Agathistos Hymn,
Greece, VI

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.
                                                           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,
                                   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,
perceiving 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 sum 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.

Source: “Annunciation” from The Stream and the Sapphire, by Denise Levertov.
New York: New Directions Publishing, 1997.

4 Comments on “The Feast of the Annunciation

    • It is amazing to see it in-person. You walk into San Marcos in Florence, turn into the hallway, and turn to walk up the stairs, and there it is!! Takes your breath away!!

      • I was with someone who had been there before, and she stopped to watch what my reaction would be. I think she wasn’t disappointed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: