I bought an angel last week. Yes, an angel. Delicate porcelain face, cheeks blushed the palest shell pink. Deep red jacket, long swirly cerulean blue skirt. And wings! More than half her height, those white and gold wings rose above her shoulders and reached nearly to her knees. They looked less like wings and more like an enormous pair of heavenly hands cupping her slender form with Divine encouragement, as if urging her forward ever so gently. Did I mention she was reading a book? A book! So angels read. Who knew?
But I turned away. Jews don’t do angels. At least not sweet and comely female ones. The Hebrew word for angel, malach, is better translated as messenger. I always imagined God’s messengers as tall robed guys wearing Birkenstocks. They weren’t sweet. They wrestled with sleeping patriarchs. Took human form and went visiting. Or appeared in burning bushes.
I had no business bringing home an angel. What about the commandment against graven images and idols? But she had me. The gentle embrace of the wings, the lustrous colors of her clothes. And that book. Maybe the artist envisioned it as a hymnal. Or the New Testament. But why not Ann Patchett or Gwendolyn Brooks?
It had been a particularly grim week. Bookstores closing, publishing houses laying off staff, newspapers going up in smoke, literacy rates fluctuating from bad to worse. In a world of Chapter Elevens, I needed a tangible reminder of why I kept writing; I wanted a physical embodiment of hope. And so I brought her home. What better angel for a Person of the Book to have on her desk?
More snow fell over the weekend. For an update click here.