Touched by an Angel

I bought an angel last week. Yes, an angel. Delicate porcelain face, cheeks blushed the palest shell pink. Deep red jacket, long swirly cerulean blue skirt. And wings! More than half her height, those white and gold wings rose above her shoulders and reached nearly to her knees. They looked less like wings and more like an enormous pair of heavenly hands cupping her slender form with Divine encouragement, as if urging her forward ever so gently. Did I mention she was reading a book? A book! So angels read. Who knew?

But I turned away. Jews don’t do angels. At least not sweet and comely female ones. The Hebrew word for angel, malach, is better translated as messenger. I always imagined God’s messengers as tall robed guys wearing Birkenstocks. They weren’t sweet. They wrestled with sleeping patriarchs. Took human form and went visiting. Or appeared in burning bushes.

I had no business bringing home an angel. What about the commandment against graven images and idols? But she had me. The gentle embrace of the wings, the lustrous colors of her clothes. And that book. Maybe the artist envisioned it as a hymnal. Or the New Testament. But why not Ann Patchett or Gwendolyn Brooks?

It had been a particularly grim week. Bookstores closing, publishing houses laying off staff, newspapers going up in smoke, literacy rates fluctuating from bad to worse. In a world of Chapter Elevens, I needed a tangible reminder of why I kept writing; I wanted a physical embodiment of hope. And so I brought her home. What better angel for a Person of the Book to have on her desk?

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More snow fell over the weekend. For an update click here.

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5 thoughts on “Touched by an Angel

  1. Cindy La Ferle

    Nice post. There are many stories, in both Testaments, about angels arriving to announce great news. I think angels are wonderful metaphors for great ideas, thoughts, and new beginnings. Also love that great expression, “Let’s put some wings on it…”

    I am not especially “religious” when it comes to angels, either, but I love the message and symbolism. In many paintings from the Renaissance, Mary is reading a book when she is visited by the angel telling her she will bear Jesus. In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore says he likes to think that this angel can also represent the coming of new ideas, in many forms. And all the more powerful when books are in the picture!

  2. Elissa Schwartz

    Debra, your angel is lovely and, as you said, with her book in hand she is perfect for a writer. Jews and Christians alike can find hope, comfort, security and love in the symbolism of an angel. I am sure that as you gaze upon her fine porcelain figure you will feel strengthened for the day and hopeful for the future. I know that my angel figurines bring me those feelings.

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