Angels, specifically my own Guardian Angel, were certainly part of the mythology foisted on my innocent little head in my early years at Catholic Grade School. The mythology being laid on us actually reached at times the absurd when we were asked by our nuns in the very early grades to please scoot over in our desk seats so we could make room for our guardian angels to sit down. I don’t remember this injunction much beyond the second grade. Perhaps that was because of a realization on the part of our teachers that with the existence of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy going out the window for many of us it might have been a bit much to keep pushing the idea of guardian angels needing a break and plopping down next to you.
Catholic teaching, perhaps not the most sophisticated strain of it even back in the mid-1950’s, taught that all souls get an Angel assigned to protect and be your guardian if you will. Since I was well on my way to being a little apostate at the age of eight I always thought the nuns were just trying to get us to not keep our books next to us on our seats, which we would frequently push off the seat and crash to the floor. And of course in today’s age of significant childhood obesity there would be many kids who couldn’t make room for any Angel’s butt with their own barely fitting in the seat.
If anyone seriously presented me with the possibility of my having a guardian angel today I might ask about the 1200 kids under 5 years of age who die of malaria daily and where the fuck are their Guardian Angels. It would seem like those angels are being quite the slackers and probably should be fired. And there are other countless examples of various forms of hideous human suffering that bring the whole concept of guardian angels into serious question.
Belief in angels for me personally of course brings into question all sorts of other queries about the spiritual and ending of course with the real big one ‘what the hell does happen once we die’. If I play my cards right will I be escorted into heaven by my own angel or much more likely, if you buy this horse-pucky at all, will I be given a GPS map straight to hell with my own guardian angel sadly saying ‘well I tried to save your sorry ass’ and waving good-bye, forever.
Most days I wake up pretty much a dyed in the wool atheist and thankful for the daily Facebook posts by Richard Dawkins. I do though admit to recently being drawn back to the writings and recordings of the great philosopher Ken Wilber, who lives here in Denver by the way.
Wilber is no fan of the new atheists, Harris, Dawkins Hitchens etc. but he does have a bit more sophisticated take on the possibility of an afterlife than angelic escorts to the great beyond. I most recently have listened and am re-listening to a series of over seven hours of CD interviews with Wilber on the Future of Spirituality conducted by Tami Simon in 2013, the wonderful lesbian woman who owns Sounds True in Boulder.
When talking about the possibility of God existing it has been difficult for me, and I think for Tami also, to pin Ken down on this. He certainly implies a ‘spiritual’ force moving the evolutionary reality of our Universe along its way. One of my favorite Ken takes on this is that it seems highly unlikely that it has been simple chance that has led “from dirt to Shakespeare”. Though I am still not completely buying this I am back listening to him and we’ll see where it ends up.
For now I am left with the stark belief and extremely non-momentous reality of my own impending demise and that that most likely will be the end of me with no angel involvement happening. At our current state of evolution it its so very difficult for us to imagine anything else going on after we are gone. This is such a freaky thing for us to ponder that we have conjured up Angels and a whole host of other deities and after-life myths since we left the trees of the African Savannah.
The raw reality of it all is summed up nicely in these few lines from of course a Grateful Dead song called Black Peter. It is a tune about a guy dying of something nasty and coming to the following realization about his own demise:
See here how everything
Lead up to this day
And it’s just like any other day
That’s ever been
Sun going up and then
The sun going down
Shine through my window.
I don’t mean to be a big buzz-kill here so if Angels blow your skirt up by all means just scoot over and invite them to have a seat.