We’ve changed planets again. The alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. yesterday, and since then we said goodbye to our Bolivian family; entered the weird transitory culture of jet planes, customs agents, increasingly invasive security checks and international airports; and landed this morning—after a 30 hour odyssey—on the planet called Oregon. It’s good to be home. The rain outside our window strums a good green melody.
It’s also my birthday, and I can think of no better way to celebrate than by just being home again. But Hal is taking me out to dinner this evening, and we will celebrate together. And it won’t be just us. I always celebrate my birthday with the archangels.
Let me explain. Several years ago, as I was reading Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk, I discovered that my birthday falls on the Feast of the Archangels, according to the liturgical calendar. We Quakers don’t usually pay much attention to the liturgical calendar, but I, for one, delight in this particular date. I don’t at all mind sharing it with Michael, Rafael and Gabriel. Somehow our fellowship is wide enough to include all my various worlds. It brings them together, and that is good.
(The Feast of the Archangels)
Every year on September 29
Raphael brings the drinks,
while Michael and Gabriel
raid the pantry for caviar and taco chips.
They congregate in the fireside room,
spread the food on the table,
pull out the Parcheesi board,
and take off their shoes.
Then they sing.
They start with the old songs
--Psalm 100, the Magnificat,
“Behold, I bring good tidings”
(a favorite after all these years)—
work their way through Gregorian chants
and Martin Luther to New World
Yankee Doodle, Southern gospel,
and somewhere in the process
they sing Happy Birthday to me.
With voices like wolves,
strange, far, and wholly holy,
the archangels celebrate.
“Don’t be afraid,” they tell me.
The juice of the sun flows free.
(From The Secret Colors of God, 2005, The Barclay Press)