I almost posted the same icon as last year because it is so beautiful.
Instead, I am posting this one from the same online collection of Coptic art. It is less beautiful in the classic sense, but that's why I am posting it. Because it is less stylized --perhaps it is older-- and the figures look slightly more human, it forces upon us not so much the idea of the Annunciation as its reality. We all have Fra Angelico on the brain of course, we Westerners, and so in our mind's eye the Annunciation is full of delicacy and light.
But was it?
And what are our standards of beauty? Do we impose them on angels and on the mother of Jesus? What happens when an icon shows what appears to many of us a slighly lumpy, ungainly Mary? When the angel, despite the beautiful robe and the eye shadow, is not exactly smiling or serene?
What do our lives look like when the surprises of Godde land in them? Are they, and we, all smooth and round and radiant?