This is the season for harkening to angel songs, believing—even joyfully—the warmth, comfort, healing and optimism offered by the angels, the sense that everything is goingto be all right, and that with all our doubts, inadequacies and fears we, too, are all right.
We are perfect just the way we are. In a minute I will tell a story about this, but first, we must remember that angels are with us not only at this season, but every day of our lives; so that the question to ask is, “Can we know them when they come? Can we feel them near at hand?” Or perhaps it is, “How can I better connect with the love and beautyof angels?”
Listen: This yarn of angels is not a myth. Every religion, all the mystics, describe the angels that they have seen. And all agree on their magnificence, beauty, and love. We are each born with one or two or three angel friends, who accompany us on this frightening journey of our lives, and they will be there to hand us into the next passage of our deaths. Oh, blessed angels! Their message is always the same. “Fear not,” they say. “Don’t be afraid. We are taking care of things.
(I’m coming to the story.)
The problem is, they don’t announce themselves with blaring trumpets and waving banners. Their whispers are easily ignored in the din of daily enterprise. Moreover, they like disguise, as if playing with us in a perpetual game of hide and seek. Or is it that if we saw them in their radiance, we’d drop down dead?
So all the time I think they are leaving secret little love notes for us-—mailing Angel Letters, as I titled one book. But it’s up to us to notice. And then we must give thanks.
I promised a story: This encounter was recently written by and sent to me from Trevor, a 28 year old Canadian. One day a few years back he was living with three other men in an old monastery in Germany. His days were filled with mindful meditation and hard, physical, outdoor labor. One night he retired to his room and lit the fire to keep warm for the night. When the flames were burning well, he began his prayers, including for those he loved but the moment he said, “Amen,” the fire burned out. (How odd.)
He relit the flames and settled again to prayer. Twice more he prayed, and each time at the word “Amen” the fire blew out. I must add here that prayer and meditation is the path to the Divine. When you are praying, you find yourself in a loving space: The third time he was overcome by the sound of beautiful and powerful words, heard as clearly as if he were listening to two people next to him and proclaiming a most fervent love for him.*
“The effect was so sudden,” he writes, “that it jolted me. It was as if your most longed-for crush had just declared undying love for you.” He was hit also by the implications: which left him with what we don’t anticipate with angels: fear, awe, wonder, terror. “It was dreadful,” he wrote, echoing the humility of others who have found themselves in the presence of such power.
Angels are not simpering little greeting card sprites.
Angels are the essence of God. They are formed of unfathomable power and love.
I am reminded of the poem by Rainer Maria Rilke (Duino Elegies, 2):
But if the archangel now, perilous, from behind the stars took one step down toward us: our own heart, beating higher and higher, would beat us to death Who are you?
Others have heard an angel speak. I wrote in A BOOK OF ANGELS of an older couple in Northampton, Massachusetts, who walking out one day saw two angels flying a few feet above their heads, conversing in low tones. They could not catch the words, but heard the two speaking intimately as they flew by. And in that same book is the story of an old mountain man, almost a hermit, who heard them singing to him every day. He said it was beautiful.
Remember this: Angels cannot speak words of anger, fear, resentment, jealousy, hurt, anguish — for they are composed of love. If you want to see an angel, ask! Ask for the gift! Pray. And then sit back, because, I promise, you’ll be surprised at how they come. Will you recognize them? Will you remember in your joy and reverence to give thanks?
© 2018 Sophy Burnham