As someone who isn’t particularly religious, I’m always sort of torn when it comes to the concept of angels, and at this time of year, when there are images of angels pretty much everywhere I look, it leads me to ponder both the concept and the image.
I guess it’s the child in me that likes the concept, the watered-down concept. I mean, a posse of higher beings whose whole job is to guard and guide is kind of cool, no matter what ultimate power you pray to, or whether you pray to one at all. The less kindly concept – angels as harbingers of bad news, death, wrath – I reject out of hand. In my universe, if there are angels, they are pure and good, and totally non-judgemental.
Then there are the images. Yes, I have angel ornaments on my tree, though I don’t have either a star or an angel as the topper. What I actually have is a sort of Merlinesque-looking Santa Claus figure, which replaced the moon we had at the top when we first got married (because we both worked nights at the time). We still have that ornament, but we have a bigger tree, now, so we had to get a bigger topper. But I digress.
As I was saying, I do have angel ornaments on my tree, but I don’t attribute any deep meaning to them. They’re part of the trappings of my mostly secular celebration of Christmas, and they’re kind of pretty, but, you know, I don’t think of them as being ANGELS, just, angels.
The point of all this is that tonight, while we were at Cracker Barrell, of all places, I found an angel ornament that I actually love, and that I had to have. It’s made of wire and beads, and is extremely stylized, and I could argue convincingly that I bought it because it LOOKS cool, but that wouldn’t be true.
Well, not entirely.
I bought it because this going-to-church-thing that we’ve started doing is making me examine long-held opinions, and preconceived notions, and while some have not changed, some are expanding. I’m still not sure what I believe, except some very general things: I don’t think the Bible is literal, as much as symbolic, metaphoric. It has some amazing poetry, but it was still written by men, translated, re-interpreted, and changed by men and women. (I also tend to favor a broad interpretation of the Constitution, but that’s another entry.)
But anyway, this ornament spoke to me, and so I bought it. It wasn’t expensive, or terribly special. It was, in fact, some mass-market thing made in China, probably by over-worked, under-paid factory workers, and yeah, I know, buying things made in China is bad, but whether I buy the thing or not, it’s already been imported. It’s not like they’re going to send it back.
It’s sitting in a shopping bag, right now, wrapped in paper. On Sunday, when my parents are here, we’ll be putting the ornaments on the tree (it’s still standing in the entry, lit, but otherwise naked), and chances are I’ll forget I even bought it until the last minute, when I’m searching for ribbon or tape for something completely different. But then I’ll find it, and smile, because for some reason when it spoke to me, it used my grandmother’s voice.
She would have loved to see it.
Muse of the Moment: Ginger.
Angels by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.