No False Pretenses
Diocesan Accountant Concludes Audit At Holy Cross

Michael and Archangels


On Angels

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe in you,mesengers.

There, where the world is turned inside out,
a heavy fabric embroidered with stars and beasts,
you stroll, inspecting the trustworthy seems.

Short is your stay here:
now and then at a matinal hour, if the sky is clear,
in a melody repeated by a bird,
or in the smell of apples at close of day
when the light makes the orchards magic.

They say somebody has invented you
but to me this does not sound convincing
for the humans invented themselves as well.

The voice -- no doubt it is a valid proof,
as it can belong only to radiant creatures,
weightless and winged (after all, why not?),
girdled with the lightning.

I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draws near
another one
do what you can.

Czeslaw Milosz

in Risking Everything: 110 Poems of Love and Revelation, ed. Roger Housden; Harmony Books: NY, 2003.

One of my favorite images of St. Michael and one of my favorite poetic images of angels. Can you imagine turning a rich tapestry over, examining the back and inspecting all the intricate, interconnecting threads that hold it together? An old fashioned telephone switchboard with all the plugs crisscrossing and connecting? Today's modern image might be a circuit board, or a silicone wafer with countless, unseen connections which enable the miracle of computing and telecommunications.

Angels remind us that there is more to the world than what we see. They teach us humility and prayerfulness. And when we try to act rightly, mercifully, they console us that this can be a struggle. That's when I find it helpful to look at this sculpture of St. Michael: to remember that good triumphs.

St. Michael's Cathedral Coventy, England.