|Ice at the end of lighthouse pier|
Angels were never, in their original lore, pretty, soft, fluffy, friendly creatures. They were scary. They wielded swords of flame and to look at one in an impure state could lead to death.
We've kinda denuded them of their power in recent years, turned them into...pets.
And we've done the same with a lot of stuff that we find too difficult. Difficult is no longer P.C. Everything is supposed to be easy or it must not be "meant to be."
Hard work is passe. If you are working hard, much new age thinking says, you must not be "focusing your intentions."
Think about anything that is naturally difficult and you'll see we've done the same: Mother Nature herself is a good example. We are surprised, where I live, when Spring is a season of rapid ups and downs, though this is what spring is here. We are surprised when violent weather hits, and we look for reasons, rather than understanding, innately, that weather can be violent, and really? Nature and weather don't give a shit about us; furthermore, they are not about us.
But back to angels and their landscape: we have mostly done this whitewashing with religion and God. We no longer expect to be challenged to be better or we say "that is too judgmental." If a priest dares to insert a call to justice into his homily, people are angry that he didn't just make them feel good.
And we take powerful things like Miracles and expect them to also be pretty and easy.
They are not.
Miracles are rarely attractive and they are never easy.
They are a Call.
They ask us to wake up, to believe differently, to change radically.
They tend to be...frightening even.
I am thinking about all of this, because it's Lent and because last night in my yoga class a student was expressing the difficult time she is in. I shared that I, too, had recently hit bottom, and that that is what a real miracle looks like.
What a gift to hit bottom, because there is only one direction after that and it is up.
I am thankful for hitting my bottom, finally. To feel that I am capable of destroying my own life means that I am capable of rebuilding it and that I have a choice in the matter. Free will is also not easy.
Miracles. Think of Lazarus. Being raised from the dead? This was neither easy nor pretty, and imagine being a witness to this! How utterly earth shattering must this have been to the people around him? To him!?
Even as a metaphor for the process of awakening, this warns us that waking up from illusion is beyond difficult and yet we are in danger of rotting if we don't.
This life thing, this being awake to our lives? It is not easy and when others try to tell us that it is, that it is soft, they do us a disservice. How many of us feel guilty, feel shamed, feel like we are doing something wrong because things don't come easily enough to us?
Life is difficult and it is beautiful and it takes courage. And that is as simple as it gets.
(Clarification: saying that life is difficult is different from saying life is suffering, as they do in the Buddhist tradition, a tradition that I have studied but do not practice. Suffering is a chosen internal response to external circumstances, whereas difficulty can just be the stuff that happens.)