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Fearsome Angels

Most of us think we might like to have an encounter with a friendly angel.  We forget that any such encounter strikes humans with a combination of awe, wonder, and terror.  An experience of a real angel would be like looking over the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time and seeing below us the ageless rocks laid out in a vast panorama; we would feel tiny and insignificant, a mere fragment of both space and time.  An angel - an awesome, mysterious, numinous reality - would give us a feeling of the ineffable Holy, and we would need to be reminded in any such encounter that we have nothing to fear.  The Holy not only gives humans an overwhelming sense of being loved but also makes demands on them just by appearing to them.  I knew one man who started a practice of praying and keeping a journal and was making great progress, and then he stopped; he told me he had seen some light, and he didn't like it.

- Morton Kelsey, The Drama of Christmas: Letting Christ Into Our Lives (Westminster John Knox, 1994).