Angelic Apparitions

Staying with the Angelic Theme for a bit. Angels seem to be entities that at least on a symbolic level are accepted across great swaths of society world wide. This acceptance (at least as a symbol) is only afforded to a few other ‘mythic creatures’. Mantis Beings need not apply….
Today (Tuesday) was incredibly beautiful here. Clear sky, crisp… golden light fading more into the silver now. The fall is when I feel most mortal, it is so bitter-sweet and wonderful. I am here now, I shall not be forever. This moment holds everything.
On The Menu:

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Three Angel Parables:

The Angel of Death Calls

The Judgment of God – A Sufi Tale

The Tale of the Crying Angel

Poetry: W.B. Yeats for a Wednesday…

Art: The Angelic Collective
I hope you enjoy this edition!

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The Angel of Death Calls

A Sufi tale with a profound message for life.

By Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

A certain king once went on a trip to one of his provinces. He set out on his journey, dressed in a sumptuous array and puffed up with pride. A man poorly dressed approached and greeted him from the side of the road; but the king would not answer. The man caught the bridles of the king’s horse and none of the king’s soldiers could make him let go. The king cried: “Let go of the bridle!” The man said: “First grant me my request.” The king said: “Release the bridle and I promise to hear your request.” The man said: “No, you must hear it right away,” and he pulled harder on the reins. The king said: “What is your request?” The man replied: “Let me whisper it in your ear, for it is a secret.” The king leaned down and the man whispered to him: “I am the Angel of Death.”
The king’s face became pale and he stammered: “Let me go home and bid farewell to my family, and wrap up my affairs.” But Azra’il said: “By the One Who sent me, you will never see your family and your wealth in this world again!” He took his soul there and then, and the king fell from his horse like a wooden log.
The Angel of Death went on his way and saw a believer walking by himself on the road. The angel greeted him, and he gave back his greeting. The angel said: “I have a message for you.” “Yes, my brother, what is it?” “I am the Angel of Death.” The believer’s face brightened with a big smile. “Welcome, welcome!” He said. “As God is my witness, I was waiting for you more impatiently than for anyone else.”
“O my brother!” the Angel of Death said, “perhaps you have a matter that you wish to settle first, so go and take care of it, for there is no rush.”
“As God is my witness,” the believer said: “there is nothing I wish more dearly than to meet my Lord.” The angel said: “Choose the way in which you would like me to take your soul, for so I have been ordered to ask you.”
The believer said: “Then let me pray two cycles of prayer, and take my soul while I am kneeling in prostration.”


The Judgment of God – A Sufi Tale
Not so long ago, as time is counted, there came to a certain oasis far in the western desert a faqir. He was a Qalandar, a wandering darvish, who had walked the deserts of Africa and Arabia for many years, seeking only solitude wherein he could remember his Creator and contemplate the Divine mysteries. His virtue and faith, his submission to the will of God, had been rewarded with tranquility of spirit, and his sincerity and devotion on the path of Love was such that the Hidden had been revealed to his heart, and he had become a Wali, a Friend of God.
Now it came to pass that the night the faqir wandered into this oasis and lay beneath a palm tree to rest before the midnight prayer, there was, unknown to him, another man under a nearby tree who was also making camp for the night.
But the other man was a notorious bandit, once the feared chieftain of a band of robbers who had for years plundered the spice caravans and waylaid rich merchants on their way from the coastal cities to the inland towns. The outcry against his merciless raids, however, had at last reached the ears of the Sultan and he had ordered his soldiers to hunt down the band and destroy them. Many were caught and beheaded. Many others deserted their chief out of fear that they would share the fate of their comrades.
Eventually, this evil man found himself alone. His purse was now empty, every last coin having been spent in escape, and he was a hunted criminal with a price on his head. Even his former allies, those dishonest merchants who had bought his stolen goods, closed their doors against him. They also feared, lest the wrath of the Sultan fall upon their necks. And so he had fled for many days across the desert and come at last to the oasis where, tired and hungry, he sat beneath a tree and cursed his wretched fate.
Now I ask you, which of these two men is the greater, and which the less? Whom has God blessed and whom has He cursed? No, do not answer! You do not know the answer, for you are not their judge. The Creator alone is the judge of His creation.
Munkir and Nakir, however, the angels who question the dead when they are assigned to the grave, looked upon the scene of the two men and sighed. ‘Surely,’ said Munkir ‘here at least the true gold may be seen from the false. These two may be judged, though their end is not yet come. God will have the greater, and Satan the less.’
‘Alas! It must be so,’ agreed Nakir. ‘True gold is the most rare, and therefore are the fields of heavens spacious indeed, while the halls of Hell are filled to bursting, overflowing even the deepest pits.’
Now God perceived the thoughts of His servants, and spoke to the hearts of the two angels. ‘Verily, thou hast pronounced their just fate,’ He said. ‘Yet woe unto mankind had I created the world by justice alone. Am I not the Merciful and Compassionate? Behold! I will visit them with sleep and visions that thou shalt know the truth of My creation.’
Thus the Lord sent sleep and mighty dreams to the faqir and the wretched thief. And lo, the Qalandar awoke in hell, even into the midst of the great fires of the pit. And the bandit chief arose in Paradise, where he stood among the saints before the very Throne of God.
The Master laid down his spent pipe and sipped his tea. His eyes searched our faces over the rim of the glass. “Is it mercy to send the worst of man to heaven?” he asked. “Or justice to send the best of man to hell?”
No one dared answer.
“Good!” he said soothingly. “To cleanse the heart of judgment is to discern the Way of Love. And such was the lesson of Munkir and Nakir. For they beheld the faqir awaken in the very midst of Hell, and saw that most worthy of men rise up naked as the fires burned his flesh and the cries of tormented souls pierced his ears. Yet he did not feel pain at the touch of the flames, and showed neither surprise nor fear. His thought was only of his Beloved, and no affliction was great enough to sway his love. He sat among the fires and the torment as a darvish sits, and in a voice clear and strong he began to sing.
‘La Illah illa Allah! La Illaha illa Allah!’
The fires blazed furiously as the song began and then dimmed to smoldering embers, and the burning mountains trembled at the Holy Name. Now the tormented souls ceased their wailing to listen, for the name of God is not uttered in the pits. Then there was no other sound to be heard but his, and the song went on and on until the very foundations of Hell were shaken, and the damned souls began to feel a spark of forbidden hope.
Surely Hell would have fallen into ruin had not Satan himself appeared, and begged the faqir to depart. But the old man would not move, for he had walked many years on the Path of Love, and the Beloved’s Will was his will, whether it be paradise or eternal fire.
The Master paused for a moment to again sip the tea beside him. He did not look at us until he began the tale again.
“And what of the thief?” he asked, when the glass was empty. “This chieftain of bandits who was once so feared and terrible, and who had fallen into wretchedness and misery, the fate of all such men in the end.”
God caused the two angels to perceive his vision also, and they saw him rise and stand robed in white, trembling amidst the host of heaven, before the Throne of Almighty God. And the angel Gabriel spoke unto him.
‘By the mercy of the Lord, thy Creator, thy earthly deeds are forgiven thee,’ he said. ‘Come now and be at peace.’

And now the truth filled his heart, and great wonder, and every veil fell from his eyes; and he saw with a clear sight the Majesty and Beauty of His Compassion, and he wept.
And the Lord God spoke unto him, and said: ‘O man, fear not. For thou canst not fall so low that I cannot raise thee up.’
And fear left the thief. He prostrated himself before his God and wept. On and on flowed the endless tears of his wasted life, until they became the very waters of mercy and would not cease; and the feet of the saints were washed by his tears.
He would have wept for eternity had not the vision ended and the two men abruptly awakened. Then the thief saw the faqir as he stood, and came to him still weeping from the dream. And the faqir perceived all that had befallen them and embraced him, and they prayed together at the midnight hour even unto the dawn. Much befell them afterwards, for the thief became the disciple of the faqir, but that is all of their tale I will tell.
And Munkir and Nakir, who had witnessed but the tiniest particle of the unending Mercy of God, bowed before their Creator in submission, and in shame of their rash condemnation. For surely beyond the comprehension of men and angels is the Judgment of God.

The Tale of the Crying Angel
Kifkef began:
“In Sinai there is a story that, once upon a time, the world was made only out of mountains, valleys and forests. There were some rivers that ran down to small lakes but no oceans and no seas.
The world was dreamed into creation by fourteen white angels who slept on silky cloud beds in a perfect circle. They dozed in serene silence, all things crystal and clear in their minds. And so it also was on the virgin Earth beneath them which they sculpted with their dreaming.
The surface was only in twilight then and the people lived in simple harmony. In the haze that filled the air no one could see very far and they looked only to what was needed for that day. But as the light from Heaven trickled its way down to the Earth, people began to notice all kinds of strange things.
To start with, they saw that they all had different colours of skin and shapes of face. Some had beautiful Arabic complexions and others suffered with pale, blotchy white skin that burnt in the sun. These inequalities soon caused each group to gather together, distrustful of all the others. Blame for everyday problems was put on the least popular tribeswhomever looked different and rumours of war smouldered around every campfire.
Also, the men saw pretty quickly that they were stronger than the women and so could take more of the good things in life for themselves. And, in general, the weak and the less able came to survive only on the leftovers dropped from the tables of the powerful and honoured.
Not only this but the arrival of clear light revealed all kinds of glorious horizons that made their mouths drip with saliva. What they had was no longer enough because there was always something better to compare it with. Everyone began to plan for futures decades down the line and damn anyone who got in their way.
And so the dreamt Creation took control of its own destiny, much to the blissful ignorance of the angels, who still imagined all kinds of beautiful thoughts in their peaceful sleep up high.
However, after some time the sounds of the suffering in the land became so many and so loud that, at last, the noise floated up to the sky and the youngest of all the angels was awoken by the cries of terror and grief from below.
She wiped the sand from her eyes and it took a few moments to realize that the Earth was no longer the happy paradise of her dreams. The sounds of crying and pain shook her from her trance and she glided down to help at once, her gossamer wings barely ruffling in the air.
She headed for the place where the suffering was the loudest and landed in the middle of a battlefield, where two armies were doing their best to hack each other to pieces. Bones were crunching and blood squirting to each side but at the sight ofthis dazzling white angel, floating down from the sky, all those that could ran for their lives. I mean, what would you do?
She moved around the arena of war like a whisper in the wind, laying her hands upon all the fallen. Her touch healed the most butchered and not only that, she even returned the recently dead to life. But by the time her work was done, she found herself surrounded by a gang of armed knights. She couldn’t understand what was happening. Before she could say a word, they wrapped a whole load of chains all around her. Under heavy guard, she was led to a stone castle and presented to the king who had ordered her capture.
“Aha. What a creature.” He cried in triumph, “Now I shall be truly invincible. With you on my side, my armies shall march with eternal life, forever able to get back on their feet and fight again.”
When the angel heard these words her heart shook violently within her. She realized that though she might try to help the people on this planet, they would only ever want to abuse her gifts.
She slipped out of her chains, which were no real restraint upon her and filled the hall with a flash of white light. By the time anyone cold open their eyes again she had flown out of a high window.
She flew at high speed down the slopes to the darkest, deepest place she could find in the cracks and canyons of the Earth. When she could go no lower she sat down to face her grief and began to cry. Tears flowed out of her large eyes like streams and then rivers, filling up all the holes around her and the salt water rose around her.
The pools swelled until she was lost to view and her tears overspilled into the other valleys, claiming the low, dry land in all directions across the Earth. She cried without end and that, my friends, is how the oceans were born.
The hate and injustice continue and so the angel still sits at the bottom of the Earth, crying with all her heart for the dream that went so terribly wrong.
And do not the scientists tell us that the sea levels continue to rise?”

Poetry: W.B. Yeats for a Wednesday…

No Second Troy
Why should I blame her that she filled my days

With misery, or that she would of late

Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,

Or hurled the little streets upon the great,

Had they but courage equal to desire?

What could have made her peaceful with a mind

That nobleness made simple as a fire,

With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind

That is not natural in an age like this,

Being high and solitary and most stern?

Why, what could she have done, being as she is?

Was there another Troy for her to burn?

On Hearing that the Students of our New University have joined the Agitation against Immoral Literature
Where, where but here have Pride and Truth,

That long to give themselves for wage,

To shake their wicked sides at youth

Restraining reckless middle-age?

September 1913
What need you, being come to sense,

But fumble in a greasy till

And add the halfpence to the pence

And prayer to shivering prayer, until

You have dried the marrow from the bone;

For men were born to pray and save;

Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,

It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind,

The names that stilled your childish play,

They have gone about the world like wind,

But little time had they to pray

For whom the hangman’s rope was spun,

And what, God help us, could they save?

Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,

It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Was it for this the wild geese spread

The grey wing upon every tide;

For this that all that blood was shed,

For this Edward Fitzgerald died,

And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,

All that delirium of the brave?

Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,

It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet could we turn the years again,

And call those exiles as they were

In all their loneliness and pain,

You’d cry `Some woman’s yellow hair

Has maddened every mother’s son’:

They weighed so lightly what they gave.

But let them be, they’re dead and gone,

They’re with O’Leary in the grave.

The Magi
Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye,

In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones

Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky

With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,

And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,

And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,

Being by Calvary’s turbulence unsatisfied,

The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.

Beggar to Beggar Cried
`Time to put off the world and go somewhere

And find my health again in the sea air,’

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

`And make my soul before my pate is bare.’

`And get a comfortable wife and house

To rid me of the devil in my shoes,’

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

`And the worse devil that is between my thighs.’

`And though I’d marry with a comely lass,

She need not be too comely — let it pass,’

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

`But there’s a devil in a looking-glass.’

`Nor should she be too rich, because the rich

Are driven by wealth as beggars by the itch,’

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

`And cannot have a humorous happy speech.’

`And there I’ll grow respected at my ease,

And hear among the garden’s nightly peace,’

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

`The wind-blown clamour of the barnacle geese.’

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