Poem by Gardner McFall


She was going about an ordinary day,
pondering dinner, washing a dish,
or sweeping the floor. Maybe
she was standing in the garden
or had come in from the garden
to sit by the window and rest.
Perhaps she had taken up a book
or remembered the unfinished sewing
when she encountered an angel
in the middle of the room.

Of course, she was shocked,
though the angel offered a host
of assurances. Whatever she thought,
she didn’t hang her head in chagrin,
collapse in a rattled heap,
or race from the house. Neither
did she act like she’d won the lottery
and could lord it over everyone,

but, no doubt, picked up the sewing,
the book, the broom, or the dish
in which she glimpsed her reflection,
a woman without any special features
except for the yellow nimbus now
hovering around her head, someone
who didn’t even try to strike
a deal with the messenger,
though she was certainly going to
give up a lot being part of this plan.

This is one of my favorite poems. It doesn’t come out and say so, but it seems to be about when Mary found out she would be the Mother of Christ. I love this depiction of a young woman who, rather than protest or question, simply said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” I admire that. I don’t think I would have taken it so in stride.

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