The photograph above is from The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, Wichita, Kansas. Choosing an image, of the story of the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would give birth to God’s son, is quite a challenge (Luke 1:26-38). Some of the greatest artists over many centuries depict this moment only through “western eyes.” At least the stained glass images is for me a little more palatable. But it begs as many questions as it attempts to answer!
I turn today to John Donne (1573-1631) and his poem Annunciation which is the second of seven sonnets under the title La Corona – yes Corona (Crown)a term we have been living with these many months- Crown! Donne uses the last line of each of his 7 sonnets as the first line of the next sonnet and therefore ties them all together in “a crown” La Corona! The second sonnet in this series I believe is majestic. Amidst all the hurrying of this season this is an invitation to pause and ponder. Do take time to read this poem and to read it again and again allowing the words to penetrate your soul and spark your imagination. As we move closer to Christmas I will be using the third in the series and will return to the others in January and then at Easter. Take the last three lines of this sonnet and gently hold them in your hands and feel the weight and width along with the gravity and the grace of these life giving words.
Annunciation John Donne
Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo! faithful Virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He’ll wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son, and Brother;
Whom thou conceivest, conceived; yea, thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother,
Thou hast light in dark, and shutt’st in little room
Immensity, cloister’d in thy dear womb.
O Holy God
in this season of Advent
we wait, we watch, and we wonder.
Words themselves are not bendy enough
to say what cannot be said.
We struggle to comprehend,
we struggle to embrace this truth.
We look to Mary, and cannot comprehend her predicament,
We look to Mary, and marvel at her “Yes”.
Might we have the courage and the commitment
to respond to God with our own “Yes”
in the here and now.
So be it God. Amen.