Un Ange Passe

May 15, 2016

In the past few months, I have sat with a number of parishioners near the end of their lives.  At the time, I was unaware of how imminent their earthly time was!  Yet, in those moments there have been periods where I had exhausted my collection of comforting words from Scripture or the Prayer Book and just remained present, silently searching for what comes next.  What comes next….not saying anything and yet praying silently that God’s will be done for them and for me?  And in those moments, I have been blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit and perhaps a passing angel that has given me the courage, strength and wisdom to remain present.

This Sunday we will celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate to the gathered community of Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem and hence the birthday of the church.  It is a time to celebrate, wear red and be reminded as the leadership team of the Sisters of Charity of New York point out, that “the power and light of Pentecost show us the way to open our hearts to all that is before us.”  May you take this time to be opened to the guidance of the Spirit that perhaps, will be brought by un Ange Passe, a passing angel.

I leave you with the words of our fellow parishioner, Sheila Bonenberger.  Happy Birthday to us, the Church!!

Un Ange Passe (reformatted for this publication)
Un Ange Passe, meaning an angel passes over when we can’t think of what to say.  My angel doesn’t have four faces like Cherubim and isn’t chubby like putti or surrounded by rays of strong white light. Dominions travel in groups or teams, but the angel I picture flies alone, or sometimes appears at the four corners of the earth in old maps, as if to say your thought is not lost, it’s here in the known world, whose edges we have pinned down with our bodies so it won’t blow away.

Seraphim with their sparkling energy, have more wings.  And some claim the Archangel’s forehead emits a soft glow of Divine consciousness that calms the mind. But my angel revels in blowing billows of words through her brass trumpet.  She’s a folk art angel wearing polka dot knee socks and nubby mittens.  She has wings, and wears a white robe, the hem circled by mismatched red hearts.  Mischievous, she snatches words right out of our mouths with William Blake’s magically tapered angel fingers then spirits them away, abandoning us on the lip of the unimaginably wide and deep abyss which has opened up between us — the one we meant to camouflage with our banter and chatter.

Now, while she cavorts with clouds, our gathering fears flood what seemed at first a cavernous emptiness inside.  Was it her impish intent to leave us drenched in loneliness and loss? Then my weather vane angel swivels her wings and ever graceful, circles backward, flips in the air and dives like a sprite, laughing as she spits our words back scrambled.  Letters come twirling down whirligigs in Spring, and somersault back inside us until Oh my cerulean angel with windy wings, we make poetry of the jumbled muddle and find ourselves by saying what we long to say.

By Sheila Bonenberger