Feast of the Imagination – Br. James Koester

St. Michael and All Angels

Genesis 28:10-17
Revelation 12:7-12

In my experience you are likely to get one of several reactions from people when your mention angels. One is the eye rolling, tossing of the head, I don’t believe you fall for the nonsense, reaction. Another is the new age, crystals and angels with flouncy long dresses and magic wands, reaction. But there is another reaction, and it probably won’t surprise you when I say, it’s the one I fall into.

For me, and for others, angels are not a pre-scientific, pre-rational, pre-modern way of understanding or thinking. Nor are they about whimsy, fantasy, and magic. For me, angels are about the imagination. Father Michael Himes, a Roman Catholic priest and Boston College theologian, defines the imagination as a “creative faculty,” which has “the capacity to embody the abstract in the concrete.”[1] Imagination then is not about “escaping from reality.” Instead, imagination is “precisely about making things real.”[2]

We have all watched children at play and have been captivated by how they can make real, and present, a world unseen. Their play is not an escape from the immediate constraints, weights, and fractures of human life,[3] into some kind of fantasy. It is a way, in a sense, through the wardrobe door into another world, which is just as real as this one. In a way then, angels are doorkeepers who help by ushering us through the door, from one world into the other.

Like those angels seen by Jacob in his dream,[4] one of the tasks of an angel is to usher us into the presence of God. At the same time, they are called to enter the cosmic fray, and do battle with the forces of wickedness and deception.[5] Both these worlds, the world of the Divine, and the world of the Great Deceiver, though often hidden from our sight, are experienced sometimes just below the level of consciousness. It is through the door of our imagination that we enter them. The fact that they require our imagination in order to be seen however, does not make them less real than the world we can see, and touch, and feel, and smell.

Once ushered through the wardrobe, Narnia was just as real as anything Edmund, Lucy, and Peter had left behind. The same is true for us. Escorted by angels, we stand before the Throne of Grace, singing the song of heaven, holy, holy, holy!

[1] https://dailytheology.org/2013/11/22/the-feast-day-of-c-s-lewis-patron-of-the-imagination-2/ downloaded 29 September 2021

[2] Ibid., downloaded 29 September 2021

[3] Ibid., downloaded 29 September 2021

[4] Genesis 28: 10 – 17

[5] Revelation 12: 7 – 12

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