Thursday, 23 December 2021

Glimpses of Angels

Got the Archdruidical mid-Yule day off. Took the chance to get out to where I feel most connected to the wild, a two-hour journey out to where the Fens meet the sea.

Little plug, by the way. The Rising Sun at Gedney Drove End. They only have one real ale on (Abbot Ale) but Burton Dasset tells me it was beautifully kept. Looked after by lovely people. If you're anywhere near that (unlikely, I know, but you could be going from Nottingham to Kings Lynn or something) then well worth popping in.

So anyway. Just my kind of day. Not actually raining, but slightly misty. You couldn't see the sea from the sea-bank. The flag was down at RAF Holbeach, so you knew you wouldn't accidentally be blown to pieces. And I, who prefer the times of dying light and gloom at tea time, felt that sense of Northern European satisfaction that, though things may seem peaceful and dull, Ragnarok is coming. 

There's a brooding presence out there. The skies are, of course, huge. Even when they just hang there, gray. The sea - behind the mist and beyond the marsh - can be sensed rather than heard or seen.

All in all, a time and place to reflect on things. 

And out there, you reflect on those Old English saints, Guthlac and Botolph. Famed for taming the marshes, and thereby taking away the powers of the ignis fatuus or "Wills of the Wisp". So famed as exorcists. The ones who tamed the rogue lights.

And that ancient presence - hanging in the sky and the skies and the gloom and the silence - can we give it a name? People have tried enough. Lit fires. Put up stones. Shaken their fists at the sky. 

In a manger in Bethlehem, a young woman lays her son. The most ordinary thing of all. Down the ages, billions of mothers will take care of billions of children.  The light in that child's eyes shines with the light of the start of the universe. Outside, some scruffy shepherds have seen the glory of heaven. In here are just the glimpses of angels. The wide-eyed cherubim that saw the bang of the Big Bang are bowing down as they realise that God has done something they could never imagine - second-born as they are, and first-born in time. The Logos - the Word that holds all time and space in place - has become a point in time and space.

And the hopes and fears of all the years meet here tonight. Where the flickers from the fire give warmth to the mother and her careful, proud, still-worrying husband. And the one that first nudged the comets into their orbit lays there, so still, flickering in the firelight that throws shadows where they can see glimpses of angels.

And we, in twenty-first century England, whether in fenny wastes or the sulfur glow of cities. Whether chasing deals or wondering where the next fiver will come from. Tear yourself away from your phone or laptop or tablet (after reading this post, of course). Clear your head in the cool air. Look out at the dark or the light or whatever your house, flat or alternative accommodation is bathed in.  Look. 

Maybe in the shadows. Maybe in the face of someone you help. A homeless person or a foodbank client or someone you can't stand, but tolerate because that's what you are meant to do.

You may see glimpses of angels.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for this, and a very happy Christmas to you.

    Amanda, Sussex


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