Dad was a spiritual person, but not too sold on religion. His favorite artwork of Jesus was one that showed a muscular, tanned Jesus making sure the Money-Changers arses were roundly and soundly booted out of the Temple –
Because they were taking advantage of the widows, orphans and oppressed, you see. They deserved a good ass-whoopin’ and the Jesus depicted was the man to do it.
Dad thought it fitting. He also pointed out that Jesus was a carpenter’s son – in the days before power tools. It takes some muscle to be a hand-tool carpenter. And he just didn’t buy into the pale, thin, no-muscles and no angst Jesus – He liked the Jesus that did more than say pretty words – He liked a man of action.
And I, idolizing my Dad, decided I liked that version of Jesus, too.
Some years ago, I saw a painting of Angel Gabriel. Sword drawn, arms with muscles that weren’t exaggerated, but rippled with strength, nonetheless. It was apparent someone had stepped out of line and he was there to make sure they didn’t get away with it.
I had a new ally.
Gabriel protected me through the night, when the fears of life surrounded me. I envisioned him guarding me, my family and all those I figured it was my job to take care of – – I asked him to protect us all while I left the battlefield to retire to my tent for rest and rejuvenation.
(Yes, Yes, I now know I’m suppose to send my requisition order for Gabriel via God, but I hadn’t read the policy book at the time – – – )
I didn’t trust the harp playing angels to know how to use a sword, you see. They always see the good and the perfection of the Universe. I just couldn’t see them doing what needed to be done, should Fate try slipping in and stealing yet another of my loved ones.
He’s the one who swooped down to whisk me away from the blood and gore of a battlefield nightmare – he answered my call when I laid crumpled and trampled, unable to even whisper, “Medic!”
He was the one heavenly personage who stood quietly still in the face of my anger. He didn’t ask that I shut up and be grateful – he never told me to be gracious – he simply stood, quiet as a clam and strong as a rock while the storm of my rage whirled about him – while I ranted and raved and asked for answers.
He never judged when I secretly wished for vengeance on those who had hurt me and mine. He never made me feel less than. His eyes told me I would find the restraint, the wisdom and the strength – he never doubted me or my ability to weather storms and come up fighting, without leaving a trail of destroyed innocents behind me.
When I was ill and no longer had the will to fight, to protect, to serve, he always met me in the garden of my mind. I could lay down on the stone bench and feel his wings envelop me – healing and protecting – rejuvenating my will – readying me for the challenges to come – –
Gabriel’s shoulders are the ones who carried my burdens when I refused to relinquish them to anyone else. I could trust him to carry my unwieldy load without it destroying him. He’s strong, you see. I don’t have to worry that I gave him too much – – he can always handle it.
Yes, I could have asked God, but hey, there are a lot of folks who have greater needs than mine and I figure he’s probably already busy – – besides, God is pretty good at the forgiveness business – – – when I secretly wanted to kick-butt, Gabriel just seemed like the one who was more in tune with my less-than-stellar-ambitions….I also trusted he wouldn’t let my wishing go to the Fulfillment department of the Universe –
He knew my heart and I knew he would keep my pleas between me and him until I had chosen my intents more wisely.
There are those who say our God or gods are made in the image of our needs – that we refashion our spiritual world to fit our yearnings – – that each generation, we remold our faith and our deities to meet our current reality.
That may be so, but there is a part of me that denies Gabriel being a figment of my imagination – – he makes me look at things I’d rather ignore. He never forces me, but beckons me to face what I’d rather turn away from – assuring me I am strong enough to face my own weaknesses and failings. And when I do not have the strength to take one more step, well, he steps in and takes care of the battle until I’m strong enough to do for myself again – –
Because you know, that’s what Warriors do…