Sunday, 7 August 2011

Angels - the art of extinguishing demons

How can anyone consider a rapist or murderer as an angel?

Surely, we are all moved to consider angels to be those who guide us through the bad things in life. Angels are supposed to be our saviours in time of need. Angels are told in stories to be messengers of God bringing news and tidings that will give us hope for the future. Angels are goodies ......... aren’t they?

If the suggestion of those we refer to as evil being angels makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, perhaps you should read Appreciating Angels: Sarah’s Story by Sally Asling. It was a book that has certainly changed my opinion regarding my own past and many, who have had difficult lives, may find it quite medicinal to read.

It’s a very bitter pill to swallow when there is a very ‘close to home’ feel to the situations portrayed in the book and the possibility that our own ghosts and those that cause us hurt, pain and suffering are handed a title that we hold in such high esteem. Even when the heart pulls us towards forgiveness for the sake of our own beliefs, some things can be too painful to release from the grasp of anger.

I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason. This book has provided me with the understanding I was missing to unlock the chains of yesterday. I only bought it because it was cheap on Kindle and yet it has changed my life. I know I’m sounding a bit over the top but it really did make me consider my past differently, especially as I have only very recently pulled myself out of a sticky and painful time. I have come to terms with, not just recent problems but, more importantly, past ghosts that have overshadowed my life.

Over the last four of five months I’ve been clearing out emotional debris. We all have times when our personal circumstances seem to gather a lot of burdens that are hard to shed and before we managed to tackle the first one another has appeared. My most recent experience had been a constant build up over several years. With the burdens now lifted or at least become easier to accept, putting the pieces of life back into their rightful places takes a little time. While we go through the black parts of life we rarely appreciate what we’re gaining. Here, at the other end of the tunnel, I look back and see how the pieces of the puzzle all fitted together and recognise the importance of people who hurt me as part of the path that would lead me back into the sunshine.

I’m soon to begin intense training towards Ministry. I promise, there is no halo over my head, and I can assure there never will be. I would love to become the perfect Minister, level headed, full of wisdom and spiritual calm and nothing but love for all my fellow human beings no matter who or what they are, but it ain’t gonna happen. I can only hope to keep working at being that perfect Minister in the hope that I will get as close to perfection as humanly possible.

It’s always been so easy for me to talk to others, in a pastoral situation, with calm and understanding and be able to guide them towards other perspectives, but I have to admit that I have never been able to commit the same wisdom to my own problems. Being a very feeling person, I seem to absorb a lot and not know how to respond even when innocence is the conclusion. My past has led me to accept whatever accusation is thrown and lay silent hoping that life itself will be my proof, but has seldom been my retribution. Some choose to carry burdens of guilt and misery for their pain. Some choose to point fingers of anger or even hatred towards those involved with their hurt. Some choose to point the finger of blame and ignore their own importance in situations. Some do all of these and more. I have, innocently believed that, things will work themselves out for the better. I used to believe that patience was all that was required and often, painfully, waited for animosity to extinguish itself and peace reign supreme. I was waiting for the ‘goodie’ Angel to appear and make things right. How innocent am I?

It’s quite normal for us to want our lives to be full of sunshine and joy. Hurt, pain, heartache, grief and sadness are all the bits we’d rather avoid. Few of us are expert at handling the negative things that happen and even fewer are talented enough to recognise the need and reason for their occurrence. We can only ever reach for the stars, our feet will always remain on terra firma.

Socrates used to tell his students that he knew nothing and in knowing that was itself wisdom. In such a complicated world I can see the wisdom of his words.

Trying to understand how a loving God would send such heartache and pain in order for us to become the person we need to be is quite a big step. This is definitely a time to review what we expect, from The Divine, that we were never promised. This is time for us to work out what is reality and what are our own expectations blown into something called normality.

Life is a very painful path but pain is, very definitely, close to pleasure. As we walk along the paths of our lives we would be naive to really expect endless sunshine. The patterns of nature and the weather she subjects the land to, should be our lesson as to how our lives should be.

So as for the Angels in our lives. It’s not easy to accept but I have to agree that I would not be the person I am had it not been for the dreadful things that have happened in my life. Those I have long felt unable to come to terms with are, amazingly, the very people that pushed me towards being the person I am today. The process doesn’t end, every hurt has it’s reason and directs us towards a place where our experience is needed.

So I guess I have to accept that those who are called evil are the angels that are sent to mould us into the people we need to be in order to follow the road that awaits us. We may not like the analogy but something has to ensure that we are in the right place at the right time to be the people we need to be. Sometimes, we have to be in a dark place in order for us to be the salvation of another further down the path.

Divine Spirit,
Bless all those who mould our lives and our thinking.
Bless the gentle and the aggressive
Bless the lost and the found
Bless those who offend and those who are offended
Bring all your mystery and wonder to the table and let us feel life in total and not just in the ways of hope and imagination.