Hail, space for the uncontained God.—Agathistos Hymn, Greece
We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lilly.
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?
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.
Oridnary 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 sum of power—
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
The bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love—but who was God.