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Are You Sure?

A poem by Madeleine L'Engle

There is also a legend that Mary was not the first young woman to whom the angel came. But she was the first one to say yes.

And how unsurprising it would be for a fourteen-year-old girl to refuse the angel. To be disbelieving. Or to say:


“Are you sure you mean —

but I’m unworthy —

I couldn’t anyhow —

I’d be afraid. No, no,

it’s inconceivable, you can’t be asking me —

I know it’s a great honour

but wouldn’t it upset them all,

both our families?

They’re very proper, you see.

Do I have to answer now?

I don’t want to say no —

it’s what every girl hopes for

even if she won’t admit it.

But I can’t commit myself to anything

this important without turning it over

in my mind for a while

and I should ask my parents

and I should ask my —

Let me have a few days to think it over.”

Sorrowfully, although he was not surprised

to have it happen again,

the angel returned to heaven.


from “And It Was Good: Reflections on Beginnings” (Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1983), pp 250-51.

Topics: Fiction and Poetry and Worship & Liturgy. Seasons & Special Events: Advent. Resource Types: Poetry.

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