Blessing of Angels
May the Angels in their beauty bless you.
May they turn toward you streams of blessing.
May the Angel of Awakening stir your heart
To come alive to the eternal within you,
To all the invitations that quietly surround you.
May the Angel of Healing turn your wounds
Into sources of refreshment.
May the Angel of the Imagination enable you
To stand on the true thresholds,
At ease with your ambivalence
And drawn in new directions
Through the glow of your contradictions.
May the Angel of Compassion open your eyes
to the unseen suffering around you.
May the Angel of Wildness disturb the places
Where your life is domesticated and safe,
Take you to the territories of true otherness.
Where all that is awakened in you
Can fall into its own rhythm.
May the Angel of Eros introduce you
To the beauty of your senses
To celebrate your inheritance
As a temple of the holy spirit.
May the Angel of Justice disturb you
To take the side of the poor and wronged.
May the Angel of Encouragement confirm you
In worth and self-respect,
That you may live with the dignity
That presides in your soul.
May the Angel of Death arrive only
When your life is complete
And you have brought every given gift
To the threshold where its infinity can shine.
May all the Angels be your sheltering
And joyful guardians.
Last week at a meeting this prayer was read for our opening and we were invited to share which angel we needed to call upon right now in our lives. As I listened, the angel of wildness sang to me, not as one I lacked, but as one who has been dancing through my veins. I am in a process of following her song, which means at the end of May I will be leaving a part-time position I have thoroughly enjoyed to embrace my own work full-time. My Abbey work has expanded in beautiful and life-giving ways and the last several weeks have been a little too full as I try to balance bringing this job I have had to a place of smooth transition and I allow my work to continue to expand. This place of overlap has been challenging and it is the angel of wildness who has sustained me, who has taught me that out here on the edges of my comfort zone I am called to be as beautiful and wild as the One who created me. I have learned about my own limits: physical, emotional, spiritual – very much a journey of Lent.
As I sat listening to this prayer I was aware of the sounds of children playing outside in the school playground and my heart leaped. I knew in that moment that the angel I need to call on right now is the angel of play. I have been working a little too hard. As someone whose primary calling is living and teaching a contemplative life I am highly sensitive to when things feel a bit out of balance. I also recognize this is but one season of my life, and a necessary one as I fulfill my commitments. I was reminded of the Hindu concept of lila which means the playful creativity of God. It is a concept which Stephen Nachmanovitch describes in his wonderful book Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. He explore the ways in which the delights of improvised art are doorways to the delights to be found in everyday life.
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
This passage from Mark is one that has been significant to me this Lenten season. I have been learning much about myself and my limits on this journey through the desert, including the reminder that I do not make this journey alone. In a moment of being overtired from working too hard, I discovered this passage as gift, and suddenly I was aware again of the cloud of witnesses accompanying me, sustaining me, ministering to me in my place of vulnerability, inviting me into wildness and even play as a way to restore my spirit.
Somehow though, because this is often a solitary journey to the desert, I forget that I do not make this pilgrimage alone. I am surrounded not only by the presence of God, but by the angels ministering in their multitude of ways. Not just shiny cherubs playing their harps, but full-grown angels who know the struggles of life in intimate ways. In fact, some of those angels are my ancestors helping me along, the Communion of Saints saying yes, we know life can be hard and we are here to offer you wisdom along the way.
The angel of play might seem like an odd one to reflect on as we enter Holy Week. And yet this is where my journey is bringing me. When I am worn out God feels smaller to me. My vision is limited by the needs of my body. We are of course body and soul woven together, and so when I am physically overtired, my soul begins to feel narrow. Those angels have broken God open for me again, even in those places where I feel stretched and small in the face of all that needs to be done.
This week is in part about the places where we confine God and where we are confronted with the reality of a God who is expansive beyond our imagining, who invites us right into the heart of our own tenderness and vulnerability to discover the new life waiting for us.
What is the angel you need to call on as we enter this last week of Lent?
What have you been learning along this desert journey?
(angel images above are from Austria and the little girl playing is me)
© Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts