The Mary Who Said No (a poem)

* I wrote this poem as a way to process my response to this article about divine rape and sexism in religious narratives (which has its own issue but nevertheless raises important questions). It  solves nothing and not just because I lack the authority to rewrite history. It leaves plenty of its own issues. But it gives me a momentary hope in the God I love so deeply. And this Christmas, I need that. (Also, I don’t remotely believe God is male, but it matters that we’ve interpreted God that way so for the poem – male pronouns were important.)

“No.”
She said, her voice soft.

“No.”
She said again.
Louder.
Defiance echoed in the small room.

Through the blinding light
the angel blinked, owlishly.
Silence stretched.

She shifted. Waiting.

“No… what?”
the question finally came,
uncharacteristic uncertainty in angelic tones.

“No.” She said, still surprised at her own daring.
“No, God cannot take me.
No, God cannot use me like a jar
for his designs.
No, God cannot shatter my worth
and leave me pregnant
and sit back and watch it from afar
like entertainment for the king’s court.”

“Well… God can…” the angel started, but she was on a tear.

“He doesn’t even know me!” She cried.
Indignant hands rested on her still small hips.
She was so young.

“He knows you,” said the angel.

“Well I don’t know him.
If he wants me so badly, let him come and talk to me himself.”

Another silence, and then… absence.
The angel left her in the dark.

And so she slept… and wondered.
And wondered… and slept.

In the morning, God was with her.
Not in her, not using her, not demanding her submission.
With her.
Tentative, nervous,
humbled and inspired.

And God stayed.
And she stayed too.
They talked and they laughed
and they learned
each other.
God stayed for a long, long time.

And when she felt
that she was no longer an object to him,
when his need to use her
and his conviction that she should be glad
gave way to genuine desire
to create with her

When that moment came to be,
she let him in.

And then his love for her
in her particular human feistiness,
and the love she returned
in her own power and strength,
grown in time and trust,
took root in her young body.

And it grew and grew
into a love
that would save the world.

Amen.

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4 thoughts on “The Mary Who Said No (a poem)

  1. Challenging though it may be to the standard assumptions about the text, I love the poetic vision of God the Lover and Mary the co-creator. It may go places I don’t want to go theologically, but the poet in me rejoices. Thanks.

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