In the church calendar March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation, the annual remembrance of Gabriel’s message to Mary according to the gospel of Luke 1:26-38.
Here’s a carol that tells the story from Moya Brennan’s wonderful Christmas album, An Irish Christmas:
“Gabriel’s Message,” by Moya Brennan, An Irish Christmas (2006)
I cannot think of this day without calling to mind the “shimmer of the angels’ wings” — “not a feather stirred” — in Fra Angelico’s painting from the Monastery of San Marco in Florence:
Malcom Guite reflects upon the Annunciation in this poem, the first in a quintet on Mary, from his book Sounding the Seasons:
We see so little, stayed on surfaces,
We calculate the outsides of all things,
Preoccupied with our own purposes
We miss the shimmer of the angels’ wings,
They coruscate around us in their joy
A swirl of wheels and eyes and wings unfurled,
They guard the good we purpose to destroy,
A hidden blaze of glory in God’s world.
But on this day a young girl stopped to see
With open eyes and heart. She heard the voice;
The promise of His glory yet to be,
As time stood still for her to make a choice;
Gabriel knelt and not a feather stirred,
The Word himself was waiting on her word.
Listen to Malcolm read it aloud on his blog.
Candace and I have been reading aloud Steve Bell’s Pilgrim Year series. In the booklet on Lent, Steve writes:
“We typically think of Mary, and anything to do with the birth narrative of Jesus, as belonging to the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. However, echoes of Lent/Easter reverberate through the Christmas narrative just as echoes of Christmas sound through Lent. The story of salvation is one story where every part penetrates and deepens the meaning of the other… Now is the liturgical time to begin preparing for his coming into our lives… The Annunciation announces and inaugurates the Incarnation…” Steve Bell, Pilgrim Year, Lent, p. 56.
Steve Bell, “May It Be Done,” Feast of Seasons (1995)