The Second Sunday of Advent: The Visitation by Ankita Saxena

Worship
Today at the Cathedral View More
7:30am Morning Prayer
8:00am Eucharist
8:30am Doors open for sightseeing
12:30pm Eucharist
4:00pm Last entry for sightseeing
5:00pm Choral Evensong

The Second Sunday of Advent: The Visitation by Ankita Saxena

The Second Sunday in Advent - 9 December

The Visitation
by Ankita Saxena



Ankita is a poet and aspiring playwright based in London. She studied English Literature at Oxford, where she specialised in post-colonial studies. She is a Barbican Young Writer alumnus and currently part of Octavia, a collective of women of colour poets resident in the Southbank Centre. Born in the Middle East, brought up in the UK and at home in India, she is a traveller by destiny. She is drawn to the experiences of minorities and hopes to use language to interrogate the ways stories, beliefs and artistic movements from different cultures collide. Religion is important because it is the oldest source of culture and yet, with the current political climate, also the newest in many ways. 

I
Mary carries God and God carries Mary –
cups her gently, hollows out her hungry stomach
and makes it whole; fills her heart the way
no man ever will.

Rumours spread. Unmarried and pregnant?
Who are her parents? How did they raise her?


So Mary grows more skin, wraps
it around her womb the way a freedom fighter
wraps his turban, so no-one can see
what’s hidden in there: how much power
each plot of fabric holds.

She hoards her treasure close to her chest.
There is no-one left to be loyal to.

II
Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown –


Mary aches in places she has never ached in before,
muscles buckling like the landscape
around her, twisting from road to river to mountain
as if learning to walk for the first time.

In times of pain she imagines how she will scrub
God clean, let God wriggle in the hinges
between her elbows and collar bones; hear God cry.

She, his mother, will shield his entire existence
like every mother before her.

Mary, Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow?


She leaps from one date palm to the next,
blistering her hands on their trunks for strength

praying, hoping she has enough breath left
to give him, to sing him nursery rhymes, to tell him
Child you are wanted and needed
I will protect you.


III
On Elizabeth’s doorstep Mary crumbles,
feels her soul burst like a land mine choked on diamonds.

Aunty, she says, I have not sinned.
Please let me in.


The two women hoist each other up
the way lone soldiers do when the battlefield empties,
each carrying more than they came with.

Aunty, let me listen to your stomach.
Your baby kicks. I can hear his feet
jangle against the curved bars.
It’s the way our children greet each other
without words. They do not need to see the light
to reach for it.

Aunty, leave the candle on. Let’s talk tonight.
Let us dance with the flame’s swaying nib.
One day we will dance freely.

Have faith. We are God’s bearers,
his first in command, already stronger than all the men
who think they rule us.

My boy will do great things. He will stop
this chaos. He will topple corrupt kings, braid
each slum’s tinned roof with gold.

Unmarried and pregnant. They’ll say.
What a miracle!

They will clap their hands together like beggars
and sing this anthem every evening till eternity.

They will say Mary carried God and God carried Mary.


Reflection

Chosen. Called out from the ordinary into an extra-ordinary purpose. 

Mary listened to the voice speaking into the depths of her being; did she recognise it enough to realize the breath that spoke those words could be trusted?

How did she find the faith to respond to love with love, following the story, despite her fear?

We are so often swayed by the words that are spoken over our lives. We react according to the experience and traditions of our family and culture. Reaching back into our past, rhythm and rhyme, both positive and negative, determine our responses and affect our ability to look into the ways of the future. 

As Mary obediently nurtured the presence of God’s incarnate love, did her bravery and confidence grow? In the face of disapproval and adversity, was she able to learn resilience and strength?

This time of festive anticipation reminds us that we are also recipients of the flow of God’s generosity; in Scripture we are told that each one of us is singled out, called by name and drawn into a sense of purpose. The Lord sets a spark inside of us, a possibility begins to illuminate the shadowy corners of our lives and the flame grows, drawing us from darkness into light. The old battles we fight are transformed by the power of a new peace settling itself over the scarred ground.

Let us be warmed by the strength of that light, heartened by the promised treasure set inside of us, and confident to discover the loving and hopeful future being set out for us:

Chosen. Called out from the ordinary into an extra-ordinary purpose.