An uplifting poem for the Feast of the Visitation

Posted by Sarah O'Brien on May 31, 2019 7:00:00 AM
Sarah O'Brien

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A few days after last year’s Feast of the Visitation, I started working on this poem. I had recently come across a villanelle (a form of poetry that’s a bit like a puzzle, definitely structured but not too strict) and wanted to try writing one myself. I looked back at it today and was surprised how much I liked it—enough to share it, I guess.

The Feast of the Visitation

The Visitation (Luke 1:39-45) is the name given to the visit Mary pays her cousin Elizabeth just after Mary has said to the angel Gabriel, “May it be done to me according to your word,” and is newly pregnant with God Incarnate. Elizabeth is an older woman, but also miraculously pregnant with St. John the Baptist. It’s a gathering of power-house players in salvation history, all present together in two bodies as these women greet each other with joy. John leaps in Elizabeth’s belly, and she is filled with the Holy Spirit when she hears Mary’s greeting. She shouts, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” and helps make real for Mary all that has just happened and is happening inside her body. And Mary then breaks into song, praising God. Like she’s been given permission to feel all the feels about this now.

This is probably my favorite encounter in Scripture. It’s a little like that quote, “Behind every great woman is another great woman replying to her frantic texts in the middle of the night.” That’s what the Visitation is for me. An image of two great women, doing amazing things, helping each other in that moment of What is happening? Can I really do this?

To me, the story of the Visitation seems to be told from Elizabeth’s perspective, so that’s how the poem came out too. I don’t usually share my poems, but from the beginning this one felt like it was meant to be shared. My hope is that it will encourage you to do that creative thing that perhaps you don’t feel like you have permission to do.

Visitation Villanelle

She came to me, the mother of my Lord,
and grinned with amazement at the sight.
All creation with me seemed to roar.

Grey haired, belly swollen like a gourd,
I stood to kiss her in the morning light.
She came to me, the mother of my Lord.

Her voice, as she crossed the threshold of my door,
rang through my womb –  from a great height,
all creation with me seemed to roar.

The baby leapt – tethered only by the cord.
The joy coursing through us! I shouted outright.
She came to me, the mother of my Lord.

Already she faced her share of the sword
She who believed all God said would be, might –
All creation with me seemed to roar.

Blessed one! With your yes you moved us toward
the home we long for, and all things made right.
She came to me, the mother of my Lord.
All creation with me seemed to roar.

This poem originally appeared at
Photo credit: Lawrence OP, Flickr, some rights reserved

Topics: Mary, poetry

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