The Return of the Angels
Before the 17th century, before the secularizarion of science, angels and other signs of the divine, were present to all people everywhere. With humanity’s increasing confidence that we could analyze and totally define anything, we moved away from a sense of wonder and toward a sense of mastery. We could not only dominate our world but the heavens also. Who needs the divine or messages from the divine when we can manage on our own?
Matthew Fox, the theologian, and Rupert Sheldrake, the biologist, note that we are now discovering the limitations of knowledge and the vast unlimited potential for change and learning within the universe. Perhaps this is why we are seeing a renewed interest in a different layer of reality, one that can include angels. There is even a whole shop devoted to angels in St. Jacob’s.
When we read the bible stories of angels, we note several things. The first is that although they begin by looking like people, they quickly become the voice of the divine. Often they begin their message by offering the assurance, “Don’t be afraid.” Usually the task or the message that follows is challenging at the least. Abraham packs up his home and family. Moses leads a group of people out of slavery. Mary gives birth to a baby who will break her heart and change the world forever.
To talk about angels is to talk about a world brimming with import, waiting for us to make meaning, weave history, make connections between intuition and knowledge, trust and hope. To think of the angels is to invite the Spirit to open us to a dimension of reality that we can experience with our souls and bodies. In this reality, all things are possible. In this dimension life is eternal because there is no separation of beings. Life is one vibrating, passionate whole.
Angels are gateways between the mundane and the cosmic. I have never encountered an angel, but I have often felt a comforting presence that has infused my soul with hope and resilience. Moreover, I know people, sane people, who have no other explanation for their experience, but that they saw an angel.
Matthew Fox says, “Awe and wonder and the kind of power that angels represent. . . call us to be greater beings ourselves.” In our time, when hope for the health of the earth, peace and tolerance, seem elusive, we need the angels to fill us with the humility to embrace change, the courage to give thanks even in this dangerous era, and the compassion to hold out our hands in love, holding in them our prayers for all creation and all the creatures, even the human ones.
It is time for us to witness to mystery and wonder. It is time to open ourselves to the winnowing of the Spirit of compassion. It is time to be filled with the voices of angels and to think about the messages that are everywhere we look.