and Principalities and Powers

There can be disadvantages to an over-fertile imagination, but just occasionally there are advantages. This evening to St Mary’s for evensong, and splendid readings, but what caught me was an anthem on Isaiah’s vision in the Temple. I have always liked this, but it waited until this evening to speak clearly to me.

I spent a lot of childhood hours in the British Museum. I would have been very young when I twigged that the achruve – the cherubs – that Isaiah saw were probably the cousins of the great six winged hybrid beasts from the Assyrian collection. In my imagination they have always been huge and powerful and not wholly human.

This evening however, they erupted into such a mass of colour and personality that I could hardly contain the excitement of it all. And evensong at St Mary’s might not be the place for ecstatic dance.

I have been thinking for some time of how angels ‘become’ – they are not born but created, but if the exasperating God who reassures Moses that he can know it will be all right because AFTER he has confronted Pharaoh he will find himself back in this very place again worshipping (er, how about some reassurance BEFORE Moses goes into action?) that same God is known for asking for input to go alongside his generous gifts.

The result was not the ordered massed ranks of a late mediaeval painting but a huge swirling excitement of individuality which undoubted owed much to the splendid murals by Gwyneth Leech at St Mary’s – thus does art nurture us.

In my own personal mythology, therefore, each angel must ‘become’. I think I have in mind ‘become what you are’ – each angel must discover what their essence is, although it is already there, and when they find it, they will change and become more like themselves.

This evening’s multi coloured and formed achruve filled my head so fully it was hard to focus on any one, although of course John the eagle and Michael the dragon were filling the ranks – they are an angel and an archangel, and not achruvime of course, but they were still there.

And I have not even considered what a Principality or a Power or a Throne might look like.


5 responses to “and Principalities and Powers

  1. Oh, so it was you reading there, this evening? Thought it might’ve been; sorry I couldn’t stay to say what-ho (had 2.5hrs’ drive avoiding inconveniently closed roads to negotiate afterwards!).

  2. rosemaryhannah

    It was indeed I who announced ‘Here ends the first reading’ after the second reading. What a crying shame it is that John 3 is almost untranslatable with the above/anew/again word play not coming out of the Greek, and the wretched translators not even sticking to ONE take on the word to help make the point.

  3. rosemaryhannah

    I think Thrones really ARE like Assyrian beasts – you can sit on the wings if you have two or four together. I think they are the kind of achruvime associated with the Ark.

  4. Actually I did zone-out and ponder `above’ a bit of my own accord, so it was a fruitful reading. 🙂

    Oh, and my favourite translation (NetBible) has a bit of commentary on the matter, too. That’s good to know.

  5. rosemaryhannah

    Good to hear.

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