I saw an Angel

My children and I went ice skating last night.  Skating is a brand new thing for all of us.  My son was able to skate by himself with only two or three falls per lap.  My daughter, however, clung to me with rubbery legs flailing while I swayed like a thin tree supporting a swing blowing in the wind.  But all of us were nothing but smiles as we skated to lovely Christmas music.

The skating party was thrown by my kids’ dentist who rents out the huge rink every Christmas for his clients and their families.  So there were tons of kids of all ages and temperaments.  There were roughnecks speed-skaters, zipping between us beginners, there were teenagers who were chatting instead of skating, there were Dads trying to impress, well, who knows who, and there were tiny kids with Moms patiently pushing them around.  It was a carnival.

My daughter and I were just trying to avoid bruises — too slow to feel like we were really skating and too fast for our own good.  At one point my daughter was having particular trouble staying up.  She was slipping, left go of my hand and grabbed my arm and jacket, throwing us both off-balance.  Then quietly and almost effortlessly, a red-headed girl skater came up right next to my daughter.  And as she passed us, with the deftness of a Kung Fu master, she lightly lifted my daughter’s arm to perfectly re-establish her balance without my daughter really realizing she’d been helped.

The angelic visitor turned and smiled softly at us as she continued around the rink as if to gently say, “It was nothing.  Have a good evening.”

The stranger’s kindness which expected no gratitude made her appear to be an angel.  It was rather surreal, actually.  I watched her as she skated away, disappearing into the crowd.  She had the grace of an angel, leaving no trace of herself.

Using religious symbols in non-religious ways is one way to weaken their doctrinaire and superstitious use.  The symbol can then lose its dogma and regains its original rich, mythical beauty.   Some may think we should shun all things religious, but a world without myths and symbols is dry.  Instead, we should be as creative as our ancestors and embrace symbols to make them our own.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

8 responses to “I saw an Angel

  1. “Instead, we should be as creative as our ancestors and embrace symbols to make them our own.”

    more true than you may realize. you’re actually using the oldest understanding of angel. the word simply means “messenger.” notice in the Genesis story of Jacob’s ladder (28:11–19) how the angels are “ascending and descending on it! ” they gotta go up to get the message first before they can come down. Ancient and Modern Rabbis make a big deal of that.

    that’s the type of a-religion i can deal with! and religion for that matter.

  2. Cute angel, I must say. Did you photoshop it from scratch?

    I really, really miss the religious symbols. I’ve been reading a book named “Malinche,” Mexican historical fiction about Hernan Cortez’s native mistress.

    The writer goes through the trouble of explaining how the sun made Malinche feel better, how praying to her dead grand mother was a daily ritual, what baptism meant to her.

    It is all about rituals, really, and it makes me feel like creating my own rituals to help me cope with life. It would be different from religion because there would be no fear or coercion, and it would be private–just mine–no proselytizing.

  3. @ Lorena —
    (a) Thanx. The angel is photoshopped by combining three pics and altering the colors, lighting and angles on each. Then I do some erasing and viola !
    (b) Yes, I feel that religion does capture much that our hearts need or desire. And many atheists throw the baby out with the wash when they leave their religions. Rituals and stories are important to us humans, they can ground us. Hey, and if you make them, you don’t have to proselytize, but you could share them with us on your blog !

    @ Luke
    Actually, Luke, I did realize it when I made the story. Remember, I am a former Christian. I love the image of a stranger bringing higher level of kindness into our reality and then drifting of without expectations. We agree with you on this point.

    But I am apparently an “accomadationalist” type of Atheist, in that I feel there are still good ways for religion to be used well. BTW, for those who don’t know, “accomadationalist” is an in-house atheist pejorative word for what is close to what I call a “sympathetic atheist“.

  4. “accomadationalist” is an in-house atheist pejorative …

    Interesting, accommodationalist is considered a negative by fundamentalist Christians when more liberal ones use it to describe how God used people to write the bible. Fundamentalists of all stripes hate accommodation I guess.

    I think you should see the movie Grand Canyon where the angel theme you write about is played out extremely well.

    Great post, and great comments too.

  5. “Actually, Luke, I did realize it when I made the story. Remember, I am a former Christian.”

    well.. that doesn’t mean ya did. if i had a quarter for every time i got a shocked expression in bible study when i taught that… but i’m happy you do know that! shows the level of study and consideration you have given the idea.

    i like accomadationalists on both sides, religious and non. keeps open dialogue.

  6. Boz

    I think you guys might be inadvertantly using two different definitions of the word accommodation(al)ist. This is Equivocation.

    (1) An Accommodationist is a person who compromises with or adapts to the viewpoint of the opposition

    (2) In atheist/theist discussion, an Accommodationist is also a person who accepts Non-Overlapping Magesteria (NOMA), which is the idea that there are two or more separate “ways of knowing”, usually empiricism and revelation.

    The second definition can be used as a perjorative between two atheists, because it is quite a dumb idea.

  7. @ Boz
    You know, I am actually not familiar with the use of the word. I will have to look into the various uses.

  8. The second definition can be used as a perjorative between two atheists, because it is quite a dumb idea.

    LOL at your concise and accurate summation.

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