Somehow I had expected feathers. Great glorious white wings, and because wings, feathers. But they were made remarkable by their absence.
Do you believe in angels? I didn't, or don't, but I am trying to. One of my teachers believed in angels, and because I respect him I figure I had better rethink.
The thinking goes like this: God exists in reality. That reality is not physical, but spiritual. Heaven is not a place, in the way we think of places, something we can point to or find on a map, or leave. It isn't populated by puffy clouds and chubby little Sistine cherubim: those are physical things. Heaven is an entire reality, separate but intertwined with our daily tangibles. God, as a nonmaterial person, exists in that intangible reality. And if God, why not other spiritual creatures? Why not angels? The heavens might be fully populated by nonmaterial persons. Reality might be brimming with angels.
On the day I decided to discover angels, I woke up very early, well before the alarm, while the sky was still thick with dark. Eyes open, I remembered that the heavens are here, that God's reality envelops and permeates ours. The beings of heaven could be filling my room. My room could be bursting at the seams with angels. Angels spilling out of doors and drawers, flooding beyond the bedroom walls. Angels pouring through the hall and kitchen and out the back door into the purpling sky.
Since then, I have imagined them packed in tightly, their reflected glory too crushed to shine. Or moving, currents of eternity in a sea of air, oxygen molecules bulky and slow by comparison. I have imagined the angels to be more like transparent humans, with faces of compassion and amusement, hovering in the room, waiting to be noticed. I have, on occasion, closed my eyes to the blinding light of God's presence, and asked to simply breathe them in, their life filling up mine, all at once inside and outside and inseparable from my own, fleshly, solidness.
If the air of heaven is filled with angels, and heaven is here, it might be that angels do not surround us, but that all the bits of matter and strings of energy that make up the "us" we know instead speckle heaven. Our physicality might well be the litter strewn across the landscape of God. We might be hard and crunchy stuff wafting through the bodies of angels.
We take in a deep breath and inhale the angelic. The creatures of God become part of us, pass through us, fill up the spaces of us, those gaps between particles, the lonely empty of being human.
In morning's silence, I will sometimes listen for a faint fluttering of feathery wings. Deep inside, soundless, I hear them: the unmistakable flowing of God.