Seven Sorrows, Seven Joys 

Sonnets in Meditation on Mary's Life (Cont.)

Old Simeon! What drew you there that day?

What whisper wakened longing in your soul?

What impulse roused you, gave new life to your

unsteady limbs? And what imagined goal,

what sweet desired dream could seem within

the grasp of gnarled hands and ancient arms

like yours? What vision or what unheard voice

impelled your coming? Haste like this alarms

and certainty in seers like you is hard

to beat: This energy, this seizing Him,

this speaking of His destiny, this fit

of flowing tears in eyes both bright and dim -

it all electrified. The crowd was stirred.

And Mary listened, and her whole heart heard!


Must you awaken Mary now, at night,

when she is deep in dreams and her small Son

asleep beside her? Must you disturb

so sweet a slumber? Breathing two as one,

her slender arm, still soft with sleep, is wrapped

about the babe, and his dark hair is damp

against her skin. Must innocence like this

be ended? Must you shine the warning lamp

across her gentle face? If Herod's set

upon the infant's death, then she must know,

take flight for Egypt, exile, yet tonight.

May she find strength to act and pack and go

to calm her baby, keep her own heart still,

and hear the wasteland whisper of God's will.


Can this extraordinary etiquette

be God's? To grieve you, leave you, stay behind

without a word to ease your mind, to let

you know where He would be? Can this be kind?

Or does some strange uncommon courtesy

direct this deed that leads you to the throne

of God? Jesus teaching in the Temple!

Such firmness, self-assurance in His tone

as if He'd known, anticipated all

anxiety, and planned your pain to spare

you worse! What could you do, endure, or dare,

what burden bear, if He did not prepare

you through this separation, triple loss,

these three sad days foreshadowing the cross?

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Reproduced with permission of Sr. Ann Astell.


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