Shall I Touch the Sky With These Small Hands

The Gospel reading for today’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation.  One of my close associations with that passage is Denise Levertov’s poem titled Annunciation.  The other is a song by Danielle Rose on her album Mysteries, which contains 23 songs, each prompted by one of the Mysteries of the Rosary.

The Rose song is titled Let if Be Done Unto Me, and it tells the story of the Annunciation from the perspective of the Angel Gabriel.

The song reminds us that God gave Mary the choice whether to participate in his plan to incarnate. When the angel sets forth God’s request, Rose sings

all the heavens and the earth
stand still in silence,
Waiting for her soul to reply.
She is free to choose –
God never will abuse the sacred Yes;
she cannot be denied.

As it was true for Mary, so it is always true for us. God invites and we are free to choose. God asks but will never force a Yes from us.

The first words uttered by Mary when she first hears of God’s request are a question: “Shall I touch the sky with these small hands?” And that too, I think, is something we share with Mary. Our initial reaction is sometimes, “Me? You’re not serious. You can’t want this from me. I’m too….sinful…weak…impatient…unworthy….” What fills in that blank is different for each of us, but we share the sense that there is something that makes our hands too small to touch the sky.

But Mary overcame the doubt, the fear, the anxiety that her hands were too small. Yes, she said, let it be done unto me. And with that yes, “what was impossible is now a possibility.”

Like Mary, let us have the grace to respond to God’s invitation by recognizing that our hands, supported by God’s, are big enough to do what God asks of us.


One thought on “Shall I Touch the Sky With These Small Hands

  1. Thank you, Susan, for your sharing. Both the song from the Mysteries album as well as the Annunciation art work from Oshkosh have become “sacramental connections” for me. You introduced me to both! Gracias!!

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