As odd as this may be to contemplate, we are halfway through the calendar year.
The chilly and snow-filled winter is well and truly behind us. York County now a warm and rather steamy place. As we traverse the apex of the seasons, what warm and loving memories of the holidays will we carry forward to December, of Hanukkah and Christmas to come?
Of course that holiday glow has faded. The ornaments and lights are probably put away. The holiday cards with their images of trees, candles and angels have long since been recycled. But can that warmth toward humanity be recycled, brought forward to be practiced with faith, in these hotter months? And the messages of the angels, even as we approach high summer, can they revisit us with their cooling, eternally patient presence?
Why not? There are angels in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They carry out the work of the Divine, delivering messages, or taking direct actions. There is a sparkle of the Divine around those angels.
In Genesis, Jacob dreamed of angels ascending and descending a ladder. It could be presumed they were going about God’s business, either doing His work directly, or perhaps sharing their spark of the Divine with a message. Perhaps some would fulfill that classic role of the angel sitting upon a shoulder whispering into an ear to inspire loving kindness or a blessed act.
There are four primary Hebrew angels. Surrounding the throne of God, they are Gabriel, Michael, Uriel and Raphael. Their stories carry forward from the Hebrew Bible to the Christian. They spoke with Abraham, Moses and Hagar, to name just a few. There is a wonderful child’s prayer for protection, upon going to bed, “To my right Michael and to my left Gabriel, in front of me Uriel and behind me Raphael, and over my head God’s Shekhinah (“the presence of God”).
That prayer, recited by so many, is a mantra for protection and a reminder of the forces for good that surround us, if we will remember.
As we move toward the pinnacle of summer, would it be possible to act as an angel for others, as an act of our own conscious faith? Even if we are so far away from the cooler winter holidays, reaching out to act as an angel for others would extend the humanity and closeness of the holiday season. Have you not called someone in your life an angel? What made them so? Was it help they rendered or an insight shared, to make a situation easier? Is it possible there was an Angel on their shoulder, whispering even a little guidance to render perspective on a situation, or suggest a helpful course of action?
The heat of our summers melts away most longings for the candlelight inspired warmth of the holiday season. But even if tempers fray and the magical memories of blessed sharing and communal assistance fades, we need our angels more than ever, whether they are human, or winged. Taking a moment to act upon the higher precepts of your faith, remembering to be kind can make a moment holy, through the actions you CHOSE to take, forgiveness you show or the blessing you see in the moment.
All of this can a take a single interaction and elevate it to a moment of faith in action and make that moment richer for the observance. As you go about your day, perhaps you will take the time to look for the angels in your life, or look for the chance to be an angel in the life of others.
Edie Yakutis works with Ritual Life at Temple Solel in Fort Mill. Contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.