The Visitation: Mary Laughed

 "The Windsock Visitation" by Brother Michael O'Neil McGrath
“The 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 
planted 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 
abode 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 flame?  

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, sharp 
bark that burst past the fear 
dislodging it forever from her throat, 
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.  
Mary 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 
sprouted wings and sprung from Mary’s soul – 
hope flew up her throat, past the red parted lips, 
bursting 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;
the 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 to read another perspective on this passage.  

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


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your heart about this wonderful passage of scripture. I hope you have a lovely day!

  2. Thank you for helping me see this passage fresh and alive and more nuanced with Mary's humanity... all your advent writings are this for me, friend.

  3. Kelly, I so look forward to your poetry each week and the ways you see things. Thanks for sharing this 'view' with us.

    1. Thanks Jody, your consistent encouragement is a blessing :)