Monday, April 19, 2010

ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

Yesterday I lunched with good friend Isabel Anders, author of BECOMING FLAME, and we covered a wide range of lunch table topics, including one about angels.  I’m one of those people on the side of belief in angels and I seem to be in good company – sixty-eight percent of Americans believe in angels, mostly guardian angels. 

In 1996 when I coordinated a women’s writing group for The Church of the Epiphany, I reviewed many spiritual books, then asked the women to respond to the lecture on the book in writing in twenty minutes or so.  Later, they read them aloud to the group.  I collected these responses and published a small book entitled MEDITATIONS OF MY HEART to sell to other church members.  One of the books I reviewed was Sophie Burnham’s A BOOK OF ANGELS, in which she wrote that “we know nothing of the realm of angels but we are given brief, fleeting glimpses in our hearts and hear them singing in lost memories.  We see it at the edge of our eye, but so ephemerally that when we turn to face it, it’s already gone.”  I quote this from Sophie’s book with permission given by Random House to publish in MEDITATIONS OF MY HEART. 

The women’s responses centered on angels as being “tasks of God,” guardian angels who carried out a task of God and when they accomplished it, they ceased to exist – these angels appeared in the form of beings or thoughts that came to individuals during perilous times, some of the angels even taking human form.  Some angels conveyed warnings about dangerous situations about to occur.  One of the women, Diane Grevemberg, wrote this response:  “I believe in angels but I also believe that there are evil forces which visit us and try to influence our lives.  If there are anti-forces, then there must be positive forces.  I’ve had such thoughts come to me as if someone whispered into my ear. I recently experienced a strong feeling of impending doom, a feeling that I needed to prepare myself for a trial.  I mentioned it to my husband, then tried to brush the feeling off as an illogical one. Before the day’s end, my son called to tell me he was in serious trouble."  Forewarnings, like this one, have happened to me more than once.  You could call them just coincidences, but I believe that the nudges are often my angel telling me not so much to “beware” as to “be aware.”

Several of the responses in the book tell of angels warning women before they had surgery, or when a child was threatened with serious illness, and one woman wrote that her angel was a “small voice in traffic telling me to look to the left one more time, or an honest friend gently chiding…it (the angel) is a welcome blessing.”

One morning when I attended Morning Prayer at St. Mary’s Convent chapel, the homily that morning was about angels and following the services, I went home and wrote this poem about what I perceived to be angels visiting St. Mary’s:

ANGELS CENTRAL – ST. MARY’S CONVENT, ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS, 2009

I glimpsed them rushing up and down
like swift flying elevators,
passing each other with brush of wings
while she stood fast in the pulpit

defining these expressions of God,
divine energy at work
still throwing down great dragons
in the wars of our broken world.

They often wish for smoother flight,
clearance for a runway of intuition,
fleeting flashes of light,
unwilling to participate in unhappiness.

You have to stop suffering
or they won’t transform you,
angels envelop only the happy and loving,
like our thoughts, cannot be seen.

Once, without wings
they came to Abraham in the form
of three men who sat under an oak tree
and shared the bread of insight with him.

The Greeks thought angels and men
could get together and bear children,
yet these ethereal creatures, beyond cohabiting,
winged past, flying to higher states.

Origen said they’re subject to evolutions
occurring over numerous lifetimes,
wherever they are, never die,
bring beauty and light eternally.

They train us in the art of happiness,
changing crisis to humor,
stoking in us feelings of sublime abundance,
rushing up and down

brushing each others’ wings,
searching for us, arranging synchronicity,
helping us know parts of us within
that are awesome and credulous.

Children know them intimately,
saints recognize their triads,
and we are safe here on the ground,
waiting to entertain them unaware.

Note:  The illustration was drawn by Paul Schexnayder for MEDITATIONS OF MY HEART.
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