“The Windsock Visitation” by Brother Michael O’Neil McGrath

Windsock Visitation” by Brother Michael O’Neill McGrath – See more at:

And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,

   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,

for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’ 

                                         – Luke 1:46-55 

From the
moment the angel arrived, 

despite assurances,
a small seed of fear 

itself at the base of her throat. 

Longing and
love enabled her to speak 

a few short words around it and in their wake 

“the thing
with feathers/ that perches in the soul” 

alighted in
her breast and there the two 

together – fear and hope – 

at times,
the one winning out, at times, the other.  

Who’s to say
which aided her more 

as her feet hurried
along the path 

to Elizabeth’s
house – the fear that pressed 

her from
behind, or hope that drew 

her like a

It was the
sight of Elizabeth, 

that wizened woman leaping 

with effort to her feet, the great, 

round belly swaying its way 

toward Mary, that broke
the tie.  

Mary laughed, a short,

bark that burst past the fear 

dislodging it forever from her

like a watermelon seed 

spit on a summer’s afternoon.  

She laughed,
like Sarah, the sound growing 

as her lips
spread wide, white teeth and red tongue 

baring and
Elizabeth, catching the glimmer 

in Mary’s
eye, began to sing and sway 

in a strange dance, made absurd 

by her
enormous girth and ripening old age.  

giggled, like the young girl she was, 

like someone
who had nothing left to lose 

and everything
to gain.  

The old woman grasped Mary 

by the hand, her own face, 

her eyes,
spread wide by joy and wonder.  

This is
when, the story goes, young 

John leaped his
famous leap, but it’s also 

the moment
in which the thing with feathers 

wings and sprung from Mary’s soul – 

hope flew up
her throat, past the red parted lips, 

into a song that could not be suppressed. 

Mary’s words
danced their way over and between them

as they swayed
and spun together, two bodies 

met in
expectancy, one young, one old. 

Once the
song found wings it was irrepressible;

words and tune, the strange swaying steps 

carried her, always, along the long, dark path ahead.


I’m journeying with John D. Blase and Winn Collier to write on a lectionary text each Monday of Advent.  The truth of the ‘word made flesh’ is that words touch us each in different ways, in different places.  Visit their blogs, The Beautiful Due and WinnCollier.com to read another perspective on this passage.  

Joining with the communities at Playdates with God and Unforced Rhythms.

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