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William Blake: The Angel Appearing to Zacharias (1799–1800)

"None of us ever was an island."

It's long been a matter of contention among theologians just precisely what human actions best serve the intention of AttractingAngels. Some insist that contrition works most reliably. Others vote for humility. Still others stand on the side of righteousness, believing that angels tend to hang with like-minded spirits. I anecdotally believe that angels seem to be attracted to trouble such that if I want to see an angel, all I have to do is get myself into some sort of trouble, even the generally irredeemable kind. If I can keep my eyes open and pay attention then, in my experience, I soon learn that whatever I did, innocent or not, if it resulted in trouble, it probably ended up attracting angels. Even sins tend to be fairly reliable attractors. In my humble experience, the kinds of angels I end up attracting do not seem all that picky about who they help. They're like the Lone Ranger but without the silly costuming. They mostly seem indistinguishable from any regular Jane or Joe. They'll let you know they're there.

Last night, I drove over to a nearby airport to fetch The Muse, who was returning from her first genuine business trip since the start of The Damned Pandemic.
She'd spent the week in Columbus, Ohio, which seemed like a good enough place to break the over-long business travel fasting, except a pilot's strike cancelled her return flight. The Lab managed to reroute her to this other airport, so I drove the sixty miles in the gathering twilight to wait for her arrival. It was Opening Day of baseball season, so I was of course listening to the Mets humiliate my gNats, grateful to be listening to two of my favorite play-by-play announcers again. I arrived forty minutes early, so I parked in the Cell Phone lot to watch the sunset and listen to my game. It was as perfect a Spring evening as has ever been experienced, with The Muse returning and all apparently right with the world.

Once she arrived, I tried to start The Schooner but it would not start. The Schooner is an electronic car. Not even the seats are analogue. Every part of the vehicle is powered. When I stepped on the brake and pushed the starter button, every damned warning light on the two dashboard video displays began flashing. The dashboard looked every bit like carnival midway come-on booth flashing every possible color in the universe. The brake pedal seized up, too, and even when I took my finger off the start button, the light show continued flashing. That little voice in my head whispered, "Oh, oh! I broke it!" The Muse was texting, wondering where I was hiding. She was ready to be picked up. I tried to explain what just happened, but couldn't. I suggested that she might need to walk out to the Cell Phone lot to meet up with me rather than expecting me to drive around the perimeter to fetch her.

The Internet suggested that something electrical had happened. I asked myself how I would design an electrical system failure in a totally electronic vehicle. Subaru had chosen the tenaciously counter-intuitive tactic of flashing every available light to subtly signal a total failure of the electrical system. A dead battery with enough juice to power the light show of the century but not enough to start the car. Some fumbling on the internet finally led even me to conclude that we were screwed. Sixty-five miles from home in gathering darkness. Near the dealership, but that had closed three hours before. The Muse tried calling a tow truck or two but only received 'voice mail full' messages in return.

Angel visits tend to occur near the end of the longer causative chains. An extremely unlikely series of events beginning with an airline pilots' strike and culminating in a flashing dashboard in fading twilight, the contexts hardly qualify as believable fiction, yet there they are. A fellow in a car parked near by in the Cell Phone lot asked me what the problem was as The Muse and I opened the hood and began swarming around the vehicle using our cell phones as flashlights. I told him that I wasn't sure. He persisted, offering that his wife, who just happened to work at the airport, had access to jumper cables there and he thought that perhaps he might be able to get them and give us a jump. I thought twice. Shouldn't I really be relying upon my own devices? I asked our benefactor if he was certain and he insisted then, heading off to rendezvous with his better half.

He was gone for a very long time, another half hour, going on forty-five minutes such that we finally connected with the insurance company to see if they could maybe find us a jump or a tow. We didn't actually know what the problem was since the illuminated indicators strongly suggested that every function of the vehicle had failed. The insurance company came to our rescue with text messages and codes sent via email. The process had advanced to the point where a map of the vicinity was displaying, showing how diligently the insurance company was helping, an assignment of our savior had just been made when our Angel and his better half arrived with those jumper cables. A few short minutes later and we'd confirmed that we had definitely been suffering from a dead battery. Our angel refused any payment, and even looped back around when exiting to point out that it sure looked like our hood had not fully latched. He was right about that. I canceled the tow truck. We drove home without further incident, humbled to acknowledge another angel living among us.

I swear, even within ear shot of angels, that trouble brings them calling. Pray for all the deliverance you want but it's doubtful that you'll get what you need until some trouble's rising toward the general vicinity of your lips. Then, the most ordinary presence might well, and reliably, turn beneficent. Someone's likely to volunteer a hand. Another will just seem to have happened by, right then, right on time. I long ago lost count of the number of just this sort of angels who've bailed me out over my life. Some were driving almost derelict vehicles and stopped to pick up the hitchhiking me from a darkening obscurity just before a storm hit. Others seemed unshaken when my shit hit some fan right in front of them. Blessed presences, every one. Dependable, ready to hand. None of us ever was an island.


This writing week ends with blessings, reminding me that whenever things seem to turn toward a worse, better often appears. This was a week of considerable struggle as I worked to more fully engage with this season. I probably had more than adequate reason to turn all cynical upon myself, even without listening to nightly news broadcasts. I did not tune in. I still contend that the good guys outnumber the bad ones, even in these increasingly illiberal times when even the devoutly religious seem to favor devils and their worser angels, even in these days when some seem to exclusively speak in slander. I sometimes falter but then another damned angel appears as if to reassure me. Onward, if not always precisely forward!

I began my writing week
Scrounging to get a simple prescription filled, double-bound by what should have been my protector. "This decision carried deeply disturbing philosophical implications, the sort of which Zeno would have been particularly fond. Only those not taking the drug could qualify to take it. "

I then noticed an abiding Incompleteness in my work, in everyone's contribution, such that judgement might prove premature at any juncture. This essay proved to be the most popular this period. "Under The Most Generous Possible Interpretation Rule, which I hold as one of my ethical responsibilities, my own happiness and well-being depend upon my extending magnanimous findings, generous judgements toward myself and others."

I attempted to explain how inspiration visits me in Muse-led. "The Muse of Musing suggested that I might gain some mileage as well as direction by reporting on how muses inspire my reflections, how I'm not just aimlessly wandering, but the beneficiary of inspiration, complements of The Muses."

I introduced myself as a hopeless gardener who mistakes Pruning for punishment. "I remain the sum total of all I could not bear to Prune."

I disclosed one of my many semi-secret identities in Ninja. "When The Muse is away, I can just kick back and display my usually exclusively inner Ninja, consuming Ninja food with impunity and even treating myself to a Ninja movie, under the guise of professional improvement, of course."

Spring brought scaffolding and the long-suppressed desire to finally finish repainting The Villa's exterior, even though working Scaffoldingly injects some clear and present dangers into my existence. " In order to vanquish dread, one must have some clear and present danger in their life."

I ended my writing week channeling my spirit flower and seasonal inspiration, the profoundly humble GrapeHyacinth. "He maintains his own ecosystem, tiny within the larger scope of things, but just significant enough. He has no plans to change this world, for he's found his niche among the rough rock and unpromising soils along neglected margins."

A writing week starting with Scrounging and ending with Attracting Angels seems normal, especially if executed by an ineptly Pruning Ninja working up on dangerous Scaffoldingly, intending Incompleteness, and led by freaking muses. It's GrapeHyacinth season, all things seem possible. Thank you for following along on this impossible-seeming Reconning!

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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