10. Gestation

As the little gods were leaving the cathedral I wanted to follow them. I wanted to see where they were going and to see what they would do with the body and blood of Jesus Christ running through their little blue veins and pumping through their hearts. I wanted to see if they could make miracles too.

But I had to stay inside so I flew around the place like a pinball with wings. After a while, I stopped to perch on the railing in the dome to think. The dome was my favorite place because I could look out its windows at the sky. While sitting there all alone I thought about how the Bride of Christ could be both very material, like this building and like the embodied person, and also very spiritual, like us angels and like God, all thinking and emotions, all wisdom and love.

Suddenly, the strangest sensation came over me. I, uh me! I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but I wanted a material body! I wondered what I would look like. I wanted to wear those beautiful and colorful brocade gowns that the priests wore. I wondered if God felt this way before He entered the body that was Jesus.

Flitting out of my absurd fantasyland I looked down from those heights to notice that many people were entering the church again. In floated different spirits than before. Both embodied gods and spirits were greeting their own kind as if they hadn't seen each other in years. They were all so happy. The spirits in particular were glowing. A baby was crying. I flew down to get a closer look.

There in front of the glistening golden gates that separated the inner sanctum from the nave stood a large golden font filled with water. I know it wasn't there before because that was the spot where I had seen the priest feed the little gods with the Body and Blood of Christ from his golden chalice.

"Hi there! Remember me?" I was startled out of my mind by the presence of a familiar angel.

"Oh, hello Poppy!" I said, suddenly recognizing her. "What are you doing here?"

"I heard that you were here and came to check on you. Are you feeling any better about time and matter, and the Bride?"

"I admit," I said sheepishly, "that this place is beautiful and that some very powerful things happen here. Look over there, what is going on now?" I pointed to the font, and then up to the priest and a man holding a baby.

"Oh! This is wonderful!" Poppy shook with delight and became brighter.

"That baby is being baptized to become a little god! The Bride will place the baby into that golden font filled with warm water which they pretend is the Bride's womb. Inside Her womb, she will purify the child from the stains that Lucifer's rebellious egotism caused to disfigure and bring death to humankind. Then the baby will be born all over again.

The baby has two mothers now, its little god-mom and the Bride. Just as the baby was conceived and grew in the mom physically, the baby is conceived and will continue to grow in the Bride, (the Church you know) spiritually. Isn't that magnificent!?"

Poppy got so enthusiastic when she spoke, a little too much so, for me.

"Poppy," I said, in an effort to tone her down. "Have you ever wished you had a body?"

I succeeded. Poppy grew quiet and pensive, a side of her I had never seen.

Soon, the cathedral was dark and empty again. A few spirits of men and angels were hovering in the altar, but all was very quiet and peaceful.

After a long dreamy silence she responded, "I have been assigned to earth for a long time." she said with a whisper. "I have witnessed embodied souls perform many magnificent acts with them and with the matter all around them. I have seen them dance with joy and make magnificent melodious sounds with their voices and with instruments. Those are the moments I want to be able to clap! Don't tell God, but how I wish I could hug or be hugged. When I see the little gods hug I want to cry. It must feel so good."

After a long paused, she continued. "But we can fly and we can see God. Their bodies give the spirits that live inside of them a sense of isolation and can be the root of conflict, pain and death. I could not bear that. There is nothing that I would give up or nothing that I want enough to be worth that; especially not being able to see God.

Now let us be quiet too and enjoy the darkness while we can." And with that Poppy enveloped me with her aura. I felt a soothing warm glow all over and wondered if Poppy was trying to make a spirit-hug and if that was what a hug felt like.

11. The Week Foundation of Time

In the beginning of the second day of confinement in the cathedral Poppy and I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the darkness with several other angels and with the human spirits who languished behind after all the activity of Sunday.

Whenever the Holy Spirit of God appeared in the grand space which He did from time to time, and even once or twice in the form of Jesus Christ, we worshipped Him chanting Holy Holy Holy. There was a formal moment when Harilaos, the chanter-spirit, appeared with a choir of angels and other local spirits in the balcony filling the cathedral with the most beautiful sounds I had ever heard. The sanctuary was saturated with adoration. We needed neither the light of the sun nor of the chandeliers because Love so fully illuminated the space.

If the Bride of Christ manifests in part as a church building, then She is utterly devoted to Her betrothed here. I could tell that God was pleased.

When the sun rose again many of the spirits and angels dispersed. The activity shifted to the ground floor where busy little gods chatted on telephones and with each other.

Ladies in aprons filled the kitchen with aromas so delectable that I was reminded of my wish for a body. I was beginning to understand why the little gods seemed to enjoy eating so much.

To escape the frenetic activity I flew back up to the dome to think.

Once there, I began to wonder why it was so important to Jesus that I stay for one week; why not 3 days or 4? Remembering that God created the universe in a week, I thought it might have something to do with that.

Typical of her habit to disturb me, Poppy suddenly appeared.

A little more irritated by her than usual, I muttered, "Can't you ever leave me alone to think for myself?"

Saddened and offended, and without a peep Poppy turned and floated down to the altar. Feeling ashamed of my rudeness, I called her back.

"I'm sorry," I said, "it was just that I was trying to figure out why Jesus is making me stay inside here for a whole week, and you burst in on me just as an answer seemed to be coming. Do you know why I have to be here for a week since you know everything?" I asked, trying not to sound as bitter as I felt.

"No," she said, "God hasn't revealed everything to me because He knows how much fun we can have when revelations come gradually. I think He wants us to absorb knowledge in bits as the little gods sip the spirits of single malt whiskey, slowly to read the many flavors and to absorb the essence. Let's sip together and go farther faster and with much more fun." she exclaimed, "Wanna?"

Refusing to switch to cheerfulness as fast as Poppy, I replied dryly, "Okay, let's give it a try."

Jumping right in Poppy said, "Good, let's start with the big picture. The Bride's mystical year is comprised of 52 weeks, one revolution of the earth around the sun during which She experiences the passion of God and the meaning of Her own birth and life!"

Then Poppy paused to see if I could figure out what that implied. She patiently waited while I thought.

To break the silence before she did, I continued by thinking out-loud, "As the earth revolves around the sun, the Bride of Christ revolves around Her Betrothed, the Son of God. Mmmmm... but the earth revolves around the sun in a graduating spiral of time. The Bride of Christ (God) who, like Christ, is both human and divine has dominion over time ..."

Poppy enthusiastically finished my sentence by saying, "Right! So her revolution around the Son is a flat circle!"

I tried to picture the spiral of time and the flat circles. Poppy continued.

"Flattening the spiral of time means that all events happen NOW to expose the fullness of the meaning of each." she cried peering into my eyes.

I was very curious about how Poppy would take it from the 52 week year, to the week that I had to stay cooped up here.

Reading me again, she said, "Don't you see that the Bride's week repeats every week throughout the year, as if the events are continuing to happen because this is NOT a spiral, it is flat. The Bride has overcome time."

I recalled my disdain of time and matter, but now, instead of hating them I started to become intrigued by what the Bride was doing with them. Could She have pulled time out of its spiraling cycle with Her divine powers? Could she have compressed the 52 weeks into one week?

"Yes, on the spiral, no on compressing" answered Poppy. "The Bride still needs all 52 weeks to complete Her year, just as the earth needs enough time to complete its revolution around the sun. The Bride's week is the foundation for everything that occurs in the Bride's year, just like creation week is the foundation for the natural year."

Reading my confusion Poppy added, "God created the world in one week. The very first thing He made was Time. As you and I know, we existed before time and will exist after time.

With that, I tried to remember the order in which God created the world. If creation week formed the world that revolves around the sun, and the Bride's Week formed the world that revolves around the Son, then perhaps bringing them together would teach us something. Maybe it would tell me why it was so important for me to be inside the church for a week. Unfortunately, I didn't know enough about the Bride's week.

"Which is why I am here!" shouted Poppy with delight.

Besides envying the little gods for their ability to eat food and hug each other I decided to add that they could separate thoughts from spoken words and thus enjoy some privacy, and time to organize their thoughts.

Poppy and I together worked out the following comparison of the two foundational weeks of all time. Poppy explained to me that the Bride's week was also known as Holy Week.

On the very first day of Creation, Sunday, God made time by alternating light and darkness.

On Sunday, the Bride celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, Easter. She says that this is the beginning of immortality, the beginning of the end of time. I really like that! Both first days are light-filled following darkness.

On the second day, Monday, God made the sky.

The Bride asks her children to commemorate the angels on this day. I like that too! In her Holy Week, this is a Clean Monday, where like in the fresh new sky, there is no pollution at all! She asks her children not to eat anything during Holy Clean Monday. In Her church buildings, She chants to her Bridegroom Christ and so begins the Bride's revolution around The Son.

On the third day, Tuesday, God made the earth with its land and seas, and He made trees and all manner of vegetation.

The Bride's Holy Week continues on Tuesday with another Bridegroom service, and She allows her children to resume eating from the fruit tree or the vegetation that God created on this the third day.

On the fourth day, Wednesday, God made the sun and moon and stars in a brief mid-week turn of His face away from earth.

While God's face is directed away to the heavens, on Wednesday in the Bride's Holy Week, the betrayer of the Son, Judas Iscariot, initiates His crucifixion by turning Jesus over to the Jews who felt duty-bound to kill Him. In Her grief the Bride-mother anoints Her children with Holy Unction for the healing of soul and body. What else could She do? Every Wednesday is a day of sorrow over the betrayal and humanity's need for healing.

On the fifth day, Thursday, God made birds and fish.

While God fills air and sea, on Holy Thursday, Jesus Christ fills His disciples the immortalizing potion of his own Body and Blood at the Last Supper.

On the sixth day, Friday, God made animals and humans.

On Friday, in an unholy anti-birth of mankind, the incarnated Creator was killed. The Bride wails, and this cataclysmic event resounds on every Friday until time is no more. The Bride asks her children to abstain from meat to mourn the killing of Jesus Christ by refusing to indulge in eating that which was killed.

On the seventh day, He rested.

And on the seventh day the Bride asks Her holy children to rest too. This is the Sabbath.

"Well," said Poppy. "Did that help you figure it out?"

"Poppy, are all those events supposed to happen in here? Is this why I have to stay here?"

"Of course not silly, they are happening in the hearts and minds of the little gods, all the people that make up the Bride and Body of Christ."

"Then, why do I have to stay here? What day is this anyway?" I replied, trying not to moan.

Just then, Gabriel himself flew up to our perch in the dome and said, "I have come to bring you good tidings of great joy, The Lord has sent me to tell you that your week will never end because it is fixed in the cyclical NOW time of the Bride, (I gasped) but you may leave this church when the sun rises."

Poppy glanced over at me with a big grin and sparkle in her eye and said, "I'll beat you to the chanter's stand!" and then took off like a rocket.

13. November 8 - The Feast of Angels

Jesus was right! I was glad to return to the Cathedral and the flat mystical circle of time for the celebration of the feast-day of the archangels Michael and Gabriel and the heavenly hosts. The awareness of a common purpose and of ultimate victory in this bloody long battle, and the camaraderie that is present in the Cathedral all make me feel safe and secure, and peaceful here.

I realized that the church building is a gathering place for little gods to enjoy a respite from the conflicts of the outside world where the spiral of time and a kaleidoscope of good and evil create a strong sense of chaos. The church building is a place for them to be healed from the wounds they may have incurred, to worship God together, and to receive His mystical potion for strength that they will need when they go back out.

Actually it was not peaceful in the cathedral today. I entered through the front door to find the place crowded with spirits of men and women and hundreds of angels that watched over them throughout their earthly lives. What a holy spiritual convention this was. The gamut of heavenly hosts was pouring in through every opening. I spotted a few Thrones who travelled all the way from God's throne room to attend. Cherubim and Seraphim were flying around the dome comparing themselves to the mosaics and laughing.

"Welcome back! How did it go out there!"

"Oh! hello Poppy, I looked for you to say good bye, but couldn't find you anywhere. It was, well horrible. The Lord gave me a vision of the spiritual battle. I never did discern the Bride or anyone who was aware of the mystical year. I am just so happy that I could return."

"Oh, it's not that bad. You will get used to it out there, and when you find the Bride in the field you will respect Her all the more for being the warrior She is. Now come, the service is about to begin!"

Poppy and I looked around for a place to perch. The dome was packed in tight, as you can imagine it would be. We finally managed to find air-space in the balcony. After we settled in, I looked down to see the iconostasis sparkling. The royal doors were shut, but the light behind them, in the altar, bounced off the golden doors to radiate beams of light out into the nave.

The chanters with their master chanter were tuning their voices. Sophicles, Guardian Angel of the Cathedral, was particularly busy greeting his guests and making sure that the hierarchy was being respected everywhere.

The parishioners were also entering the Cathedral a few at a time, one here, a couple there taking their usual places in the pews. Of course they couldn't see all the angels which was too bad because their numbers were few, and I suspected that they were sad that more of their kind were not here to join in the worship.

Many guardian angels of absent parishioners looked around to see if their people would be arriving in time, or at all. This being their only time off for the year; they hoped that for this one hour, out of 365 24-hour shifts in the year, that they would receive reciprocal attention, but most found none. The look of disappointment on angelic faces could have melted a rock.

Just as the celebration of the liturgy was about to begin Michael and Gabriel appeared together, each opening a side of the Royal Doors. The littlest angels in the pews looked at each other and giggled over the excitement of being in the presence of Michael and Gabriel and the higher heavenly hosts. Many of them had come from the streets, from Anacostia and Southeast where they protected the homeless and rarely witnessed such grandeur.

All eyes turned to face the guardian angel of The United States of America as he made his tardy but regal entrance. Being the Cathedral of the Nation's Capitol he came here to celebrate. What an honor thought all the lowly little angels.

The priests were clothed in their most glorious vestments as they made their appearance and began to lead the worship of the Holy Trinity and then to honor the heavenly hosts as they said "for protecting their Cathedral and their parishioners, and indeed the whole country, they who always behold the face of God in the Heavens."

The celebration could not have been more glorious. Tears streamed from angel-eyes over the gratitude they could see emanating from the hearts of the little gods in the pews and from the spirits of deceased gods, as well as from the chanters and the priests and altar boys and deacons.

The priests knew above all, what a difficult assignment it is to protect their flock who are embattled day and night. Both priests were well aware that this annual feast day of gratitude was paltry compensation for the enormous benefit that the angels bestow on their Church and their little gods.

"Oh, isn't this wonderful!" said Poppy vibrating faster than ever. "Gratitude makes all the hard work and conflict somehow seem worth while." As Poppy said this I tried to think about how her job was hard. After all, I had only seen her flittering around churches.

Poppy didn't stop while I was thinking, "Isn't it beautiful how gratitude unites the giver and the recipient! They become One, like God is One!" Poppy's enthusiasm made me laugh. I wondered how such a thought could be new to her.

The Master Chanter, sounding like Archangel Michael himself, belted out his lines with perfect pitch and tone demonstrating with his voice adherence to perfection in Christ that the Bride demands of Her little gods.

For example, he chanted, "O Commanders of the Heavenly Host, we the unworthy beseech you, that through your entreaties you will fortify us, guarding us in the shelter of the wings of your ethereal glory, even as we fervently bow before you crying: "Deliver us from all danger, as Commanders of the Powers on high! "

By the end of the liturgy the entire cathedral, body and soul and spirit blended perfectly so that I think I saw the foundation of the church building rise out of the ground. The heavenly congregation spirit and flesh alike filed out with an afterglow on each radiant face.

Except me and Poppy. I looked at her and said, "Okay, what next?"

Poppy replied, "We have one week until Advent begins. What do you wanna do? "

"Poppy," I replied half jokingly, "What is sleep? I think I'd like to try it."