December 19, 2010

The Annunciation

The Annunciation, 1898, by Henry Ossawa Tanner.

an angel came to me
and i was unprepared
to be what God was using.
mother i was to be.
a moment i despaired,
thought briefly of refusing.
the angel knew i heard.
according to God's Word
i bowed to this strange choosing.

a palace should have been
the birthplace of a king
(i had no way of knowing).
we went to bethlehem;
it was so strange a thing.
the wind was cold, and blowing,
my cloak was old, and thin.
they turned us from the inn;
the town was overflowing.

God's Word, a child so small
who still must learn to speak
lay in humiliation
joseph stood, strong and tall.
the beasts were warm and meek
and moved with hesitation.
the Child was born in a stall?
i understood it: all
Kings come in adoration.

perhaps it was absurd
a stable set apart,
the sleepy cattle lowing;
and the incarnate Word
resting against my heart.
my joy was overflowing.
the shepherds came, adored
the folly of the Lord
wiser than all men's knowing.

- o simplicitas, madeleine l'engle

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