The house still was chilled with the morning air, so she wrapped herself in her shawl and stepped into their small garden, hoping to warm herself in the breaking sunlight. It was a crystal clear morning. The birds were just beginning to chatter back and forth with their excitement of the new day.
She settled onto a wooden bench against the wall of their small, meek home and closed her eyes, easing into a sense of prayer, thanking God for such a lovely morning and a safe and gentle night. The intensity of the sun warmed her quickly while it danced on her closed eyelids causing a fantasm of colors to explode before her.
Soon the sun began to slowly duck behind a tree and she opened her eyes. She looked about the garden at the meager vegetables they toiled so hard to raise. But she soon found her eyes resting on her flowers. She loved these flowers especially. She had begged her parents for years for just a little garden space to grow them. Her parents always argued that they needed every inch for vegetables.
But the young girl’s passion had finally worn them down. They rolled their eyes at her frequent and mystic proclamations that beauty feeds the soul as food feeds the body.
It was as she took in the simple beauty of these flowers that she began to notice. In recalling this moment, she would ponder that it was the noticing that alerted her. Nothing in the moment was different except that she was suddenly deeply aware of it. The trees how they shimmered, the birds how they sang, the flowers how their colors modulated and yet remained true, the air how it was perfect, pure and crisp. It was the moment and she was, for the first time, fully aware of her place in the moment.
A sparrow, perched on the garden wall, spread its wings and lifted from its place and she saw it, heard it and felt its presence.
But then there was another presence, an enlivening, quickening presence. And it stood before her. Her heart pounded within her as she swooned with a mixture of excitement and fear. Her breath became quick and labored. She felt faint until she was aware of the voice.
“Mary, favored of God, be not afraid.” The angel had spoken. The angel had arrived and spoken; known her name and spoken to her, her, the lowliest of all.
A peace fell like a blanket upon her as she looked deeper into the moment.
“Favored of God, you shall bear the Son of the Most High, the heir to David’s throne.” The angel had spoken again and this time he spoke a promise.
In an instant her spirit was a flurry of questions. She was but a virgin, a lowly and humble child. How could she bear the Son of God? Her breath paled and then left her and her heart pounded in wonder.
“O favored one, the child is God’s.” The angel had spoken once again.
But angel’s words had changed in tone. The promise had been delivered. The Messiah had been announced to her. But the angel’s words rang more as a request rather than a command. And now he waited, for it was her turn to speak.
She later remembered that she noticed the sparrow had stopped in his flight; it hung in mid air. She knew then that all of creation waited for her answer, the cosmos waited in breathless, motionless anticipation for her answer.
And she waited, for she could see clearly what was set before her. The angel had asked her permission. The angel had asked of her desire to serve God by bearing the child of God. The angel, the sparrow, the cosmos, the virgin waited.
Her voiced quivered with a whisper of conviction, “Here am I, the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me according to your word.”
A warmth grew deep within her. From within her womb a warmth burgeoned and spread through her soul. It coursed through her veins and brought her to peace once more. Her breath returned and her heart settled. She lifted her head and opened her eyes. And the sparrow flew away.