St. Michael and All Angels
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.” Imagination then is not about “escaping from reality.” Instead, imagination is “precisely about making things real.”
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, 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.
How do we speak of things that we sense are true, but which lie beyond our ability to see or touch or know? How can we, with our limited language and concepts, begin to describe the spiritual world which we sense is all around us? What can we say of unseen and mystical realities that do not lend themselves to observation or analysis?