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Annunciations All the Time

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?
                              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.

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?

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Jim Manney
Jim Manneyhttps://www.jimmanneybooks.com/
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. The Angels message was not only addressed to Mary but to everyone who wants to open their hearts to Jesus’s coming.

  2. This reminds me, again, how profound was the “Yes!” that Mary said to the angel. What courage it took to say that. And, how that “yes” has impacted all of mankind ever since.
    Thanks for reminding us that we are all asked to say “yes” at various times in our life and that we need to step out in faith today, just as Mary did so many years ago.


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