Saturday, December 1, 2007

Angel Anxiety

Emily has a thoughtful post today on angels which brings to my mind all sorts of thoughts and interesting angelic things to ponder.

Can little children actually see their guardian angels? I don't remember ever having seen mine as a kid (as a little Lutheran I think that if I had, I would have been scared to death! The notion of angels always made me a little fearful when I was little). I certainly was never told that I had one.

All good Lutheran kids know that angels only come around once a year - at Christmas time. An angel appears to Mary to tell her that she will give birth to the Son of God, the Savior of the world (would this not be scary??). The angels are mentioned at church in the Gospel reading for Christmas Eve from Luke 2, when they appeared to the shepherds, telling them first not to be afraid (see? They were sore afraid, for crying out loud! If angels could scare some tough old grown-up shepherds, think how horrifying they'd be for a little Lutheran kid with an overactive imagination!) And finally, an angel appeared each year of my childhood on the top of our Christmas tree. This angel was scary in her own way:

Yep - this was her. Oh, every 4th or 5th year she'd fall apart and have to be replaced with another angel who might have had a different shade of blonde hair, or a different colored dress - but they were all alike. I suspected they were all angel sisters. Now if this is the imagery that came to mind when you thought about angels, would it not scare the bejeebers out of you if one actually appeared - full sized - in all of her lit-up, fluffy, plastic-y-faced, painted on lipstick-y perfection?? I don't think I'd care to be visited by an angel like her even as a grown up! But from the time I was very young, I always thought that if I ever saw an angel, the best thing for me to do would be to turn around and run away as fast as I could. I at least had a plan.

But artificial and glitzy as the angel on the top of our tree was, I suppose it would have been better to have seen a guardian angel that looked like her than one that looked like Jane West. I could run away all I wanted, but she could just capture me with her lasso:

or like her (she has no flesh on her arms!!!):

Well, maybe if I did see my guardian angel when I was a little child, my fearful brain suppressed it ... because I have no memory of it now.

I guess that I admit that I'm glad that our kids are growing up with this angel-imagery instead:

Funny. They don't seem to carry the strange angel-baggage I had when I was a kid.


Emily H. said...

I was always told I had a guardian angel when I was little and I even had the typical Lutheran "Heilige Schutzengel" picture hung up in my room. (See it here: ). I found it to be on the creepy end of my imagination, too. The angel seems like its from another dimension. What I like about the icon you posted is that the angel's feet are on the ground - he's truly inhabiting the same space as the boy, even holding his hand. The other Lutheran fav... not so sure that the angel is really "there".

Emily H. said...

Hey, it didn't paste the whole link in there! Let's try this again...

If that doesn't work, just search for "heilige schutzengel" at and you'll find the one I'm talking about.

Mimi said...

My patron is the Archangel Michael.

-C said...

Emily -
Yes, I've seen this image, too. Doesn't she look like the one from the tops of the Christmas trees - only giganormous! Maybe it was just her size that spooked me when I was little.

But you know, I'm glad to know that someone told a little Lutheran that they have a guardian angel. Must be one of those differences between the LCMS and the (old) ALC of which I was a part as a child.