This morning I awoke from a puzzling dream, with the words, "No Angels? man asked with disappointment," running through my mind.
It was a quote from my subconcious, and it got me thinking about angels. Sometimes these vivid dreamed phrases will be connected to a recent conversation, often one held just before bed. But.. no angels? I sat quietly with coffee to contemplate its meaning.
For me, the word angel has almost no theological connotation. It describes a mythical "being," a kind of helper of God. But we know that people use the word to talk about other humans that are still living, and to describe the fate of departed love ones. I did write a homily about angels once (but not last night), and learned that there is a great deal of overlap, confusion, and misinformation floating around. My favorite quote from the sermon was, "Angels, once relegated to Heaven, have undergone a second incarnation as knick knacks." They serve a certain purpose.
Well! If THAT sort of angel doesn't exist, is there a word we can employ to talk about people who come into our lives, teach us something, and depart, often too soon? Mensch is close,but not quite right. New-agey folks might say teacher or guide. Whatever we call them, their presence has an eerily prophetic and predetermined quality about it.
I was having a brief conversation with my Membership Director not long before sleeping. She mentioned a man who had joined the church and then withdrawn his membership after one week. We wondered together what could have turned him off so quickly. I hadn't gotten to know him personally, but he did fill out some surveys about the Sunday worship and left a comment or two on my blog and/or facebook.
One in particular haunted me. He scolded me for being what he called irenic about the issue of gay rights. I gradually acknowledged that he was right; in fact, his words led to my decision to take part in next week's Human Rights Campaign Clergy Call. It's been too long and I've been too quiet.