My wife disturbed my Advent bliss a couple of days ago when she showed me a poem. I had been sailing along smoothly, humming “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” lighting the Advent wreath, and reading Isaiah’s prophecies. Then Susan handed me “Annunciation” by Denise Levertov. These are the lines that troubled my world.
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.
Ordinary lives continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.
We honor Mary for saying “yes” to God’s marvelous invitation. She could have said “no,” and “the gates close, the pathway vanishes,” in Levertov’s words. Something else would have happened, some divine Plan B (or C or D or E), but it wouldn’t have been the world that Mary’s “yes” gave us.
The same is true for each of us right now. There are annunciations of one sort or another happening all the time. God is inviting you to do something, and it’s up to you to say yes or no to it.
God sent a messenger to Mary to issue his invitation. So as Christ comes into our world, ask yourself: who is the messenger God is sending to you? What’s the message? What roads of light and storm are opening up for you?