There is a phenomenon growing among the general population of people searching for the meaning in their lives. This in and of itself is not new, but what is new is that the bias, once having been based in reality and tangible elements, has shifted to an awareness; or perhaps a longing, to believe in a force larger than themselves.
It would seem that since the beginning of recorded history there has always been a vehicle for this . . . the belief in angels. The Bible makes many references to the existence of angels and the characteristics they exhibit. Throughout time, the evolution of celestial presences has become more defined and perhaps more palatable. This intriguing aspect of this revolutionary thought process is that it is not scholars or theologians who are examining and discussing the idea, it is coming from all avenues of society.
Life in the nineties can be found stuck on fast forward on the Info-trac of history. This is not news to those of us who are living or, perhaps, struggling to survive this triathlon. And while it is a noble idea that truth should not be subjected to popular approval, it appears that the weight of that approval may just be enough to spark more thought, more investigation. There are many issues on the playing board right now: issues of major importance with tangible consequences. And unless you are a hermit living a life of solitude and solemnity, you will not be spared the infestation of images of injustices and rage; trauma and hopelessness that flourishes each and every day. It used to be that we were allowed to choose our poison, but with the prolific and supersonic advances in the communication media, we can be terrorized and horrified from every corner of the globe as it happens and in living color.
Is it any wonder that there appears to be a new grass-roots concept taking hold in little private gardens all over our country searching for truth and light? They seek solace and comfort for their bodies and their minds; and they are willing to step out on the cutting edge of opinion and resurrect a familiar vision from a happier time. They want to believe in something more powerful than themselves. They are turning in the keys to the control board and considering the possibility that there are angels among us.
"What idea is more beguiling that the notion of lightsome spirits, free of time and space and human weakness, hovering between us and all harm? To believe in angels is to allow the universe to be at once mysterious and benign. Even people who refuse to believe in them may long to be proved wrong." (Gibbs, N., Angels Among Us, Time Magazine, December 1993.)
These words are the opening statement for the cover article that appeared in Time Magazine, December, 1993. The incredible thing to me is that in this seemingly sophisticated and seasoned society the question is even being considered never mind being given so much attention. Up until recently, it had appeared that the only source of reference was the Bible; and while being considered, in the very least, a tremendous literary work even by skeptics, we certainly recognize its bias.
But over the past few decades, the search for understanding and "the meaning of life" took a turn off the mainstream path. This remarkable event, while happening simultaneously across our nation, appears to have been passed on, as if in whispers, from one to another to another.
Even now, little hard-core reference is available. There is, however, a growing number of books and articles being published on this very topic. Sophy Burnham is perhaps the best known secular author, having published her first book, A Book of Angels, five years ago. It quickly soared to the top of best seller lists across the country. Her work, Angel Letters, published in 1991 by Ballantine Books is a compilation of letters from readers in response to the first book. As she writes in her introduction, "The letters, an outpouring of personal experience and spiritual confession, started arriving as soon as the book was published. I filed them by subject, angel stories, . . . There were requests to meet, requests for more information . . . Readers asked how they could get in touch with, work with, befriend these healing guides." (Burnham, S., Angel Letters, Ballantine Books, 1991.)
As early as 1923 however, Dr. Richard Bucke wrote a book entitled Cosmic Conscience, in which he speaks of awareness of the evolution of the spirit. He predicts that more and more beings will be born with "awareness" of the need to be in direct contact with the soulful side of their psyche. (Bucke, R.M., Ph.D., Cosmic Conscience, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1923.)
Perhaps, as if to lend credibility to that very premise, my research led me to a local authority who subscribes to this very notion, not just in theory but in practice. It was my great fortune (or was I directed?) to be able to interview a local expert, Patricia McKenna. Mrs. McKenna is a licensed psychotherapist practicing on the South Shore and she is an instructor at Cape Cod Community College, where she teaches a class on (what else) Angel Awareness. Her classes are always full and, as a matter of fact, she tells me she will not allow the college to put a limit on the number of students. It is her opinion that "anyone can play the role of an angel. Each of us brings our own experience to it. As we learn to surrender, and slow down, we (become aware) that 'intelligence' is awareness of what is . . . reality . . . plain evolution; we seek direct contact with spirituality; individually." The most usual door to this experience, she says, is through the appreciation of nature. And as she points out, the interest of the study of Native American Indian folklore and tradition, reaffirms that the quest is alive and well and living in the minds of people you never would have suspected. Indeed, there are angels among us!
In her book, A Return to Love (Williamson, M., A Return to Love, Harper Perennial, 1993.), Marianne Williamson refers to this simply as "divine dispensation, An Act of Grace."