“I think of the trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go”. – May Sarton
When wildfires ravaged across the lush, green forests of the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2017, human life and property were devastated. How did the animals and thousands of diverse living organisms fare? Studies of repeated fiery violence over millennium reveals that wildlife and ecosystems actually thrive. Nature embraces the cycles of engulfing fires. It’s as if what appears to be the end, is actually a new beginning.
"People look at burned areas and think they're dead. They're not dead. They've just changed," says Patricia Kennedy, a wildlife biologist at Oregon State University. "It's a whole new habitat."
During a life span, elating triumphs are mixed with sophomoric failures and a litany of scars, episodic trauma, and scorched relationships, scattered on the human landscape. There’s plenty of “hell on earth” to survive in the natural order of things! But, as observed from the animal kingdom, embracing the elements of an ever-changing environment is the mystical pivot for miraculous advances, including decomposed charcoal-rich soil sprouting new green pastures.
Rather than expending energy to resist or side-step, consciously welcome everything from the universe with a gracious and full heart, expecting to prevail. This default vulnerability is birthed through divine identity, wielding a triangle’s uncompromising strength through interconnecting generosity, goodness and gratitude. The ambience in the body of that triangle is agape love, amplified through the celestial diva’s perfected music to arouse the soul. A LovesIntention place. My identity fortress for sowing faith, restoration, and God’s gifts of the heart: kindness, mercy, and goodwill.
For without a clear identity from the source of eternity, the evil chaos swirling the earth will devour the unrooted. With a christening of identity comes preservation of pristine thoughts, sacred words, and actions that shape culture. Mahatma Gandhi reflected this dynamic in a revolutionary way; still impacting generations beyond his native country of India:
“You must be the change you want to see in the world. As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
Self-explanatory, right? The obvious principle is to prize thoughts formed in the brain’s sanctuary, adjust for purification of ideals, and “freeze” for the archives. Recognize the power of words spoken, and how actions usually amplify the intentions.
Once when I was an impressionable boy of nine, my family was visiting with relatives in upstate New York. Our Uncle Jerry and Aunt Nancy built a big house in the country. Of course, everything’s “big” from the mind of a “little kid”. I slept in a bedroom with a window that looked out to a giant willow tree in their backyard. Tired from an active day, about to succumb to restful sleep, my thoughts were suddenly hijacked as the willow tree slowly took the shape of a backyard hairy monster leaning to grab me. Thankfully, escaping under the pillow and bedsheets was effective enough for the few minutes it took to fall asleep.
While a junior at Springfield College, I decided to complete a marathon, which is an ambitious 26.2 miles. According to current statistics, only .5% of the U.S. population has ever completed a marathon. Training after a full day of classes became a welcome break. Athletic and fit, I enjoyed physical running and subsequent endorphin rush. Not a sexual release, but close. It took about 90 days of training to establish the habitual pattern of running 12 miles every evening. Every other week when the body and mind agreed, I’d put in an extended, rigorous 20 mile run. After 9 months of intensive training, I felt ready for George Washington’s Birthday Marathon, a relatively flat course mapped out in Greenbelt, Maryland. Fortuitous for me, the marathon’s route was a predictable 8 mile loop. Gliding through the second loop, I followed my training pace, feeling confident in mind and strong in body. My spirits were high that I’d accomplish this self-induced challenge. I’d read about “The Wall”, and even spoke with experienced runners about it, but thought I’d just bust through it. Hitting the wall is a condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy which is caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles. Halfway into the third loop, passing the 20 mile marker, that wall appeared out of nowhere. It’s unexplainable. But, no question I was dead in my tracks. The body was depleted, while the mind was frozen. I stopped running in sudden defeat. Most perplexing was the conviction that my mind was giving up. Numbed, confused, and drained, I looked down at my running shoes. I had failed to complete my first marathon.
When all hope was lost, I heard a faint male voice coming from behind me, “can you just do this”, he said. While my legs felt anchored in concrete, I turned my torso to see a much older man with a shuffling running pattern, moving toward me. At first I was concerned that he was about to collapse. But, this guy was surviving, even with his awkward looking running style. My thinking quickly changed to intimidation. “Of course I can do that”, I replied with a dash of sarcasm. We finished the race together in 4 hours and 11 minutes. My shift in thinking rallied my body to perform. This is how the impossible gets done. Tap into a spiritual, mindful passion to believe.
Life’s always a mix of joy, surprise, sadness, suffering, and celebration. Everybody inherits the same box of stuff. What was it that Forrest Gump said? “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get”. Humor may wrap truth in a palatable gift box. But, the gift of a pure mind and heart has the protective armor guard of God’s agape love to combat against the principalities of darkness. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Besides faith and raw courage, combined with merciful compassion, where does that kind of supernatural “love power” come from? Speak bravely for your Band of Angels, I proclaim.
Angels are pure spirits created by God to carry out different tasks assigned to them. Chief among them being worship and praise in Heaven, carrying messages from Heaven to Earth, answering prayers, guiding, protecting, and delivering people in danger.
There are an indefinite number of Angels in three spheres. The first sphere of Angels are Seraphim’s (praise and worship to God); Cherubim’s (guarding the throne of God); and Ophanim’s (God’s justice and authority). The second sphere of Angels are Lordships (God’s mercy); Strongholds (courage, strength, and valor); and Authorities (good over evil). The third sphere of Angels are Rulers (guiding the world); Archangels (God’s messengers); and the personal Angels (guardians).
“For He will command His Angels concerning you. To guard you in all your ways” (Psalms 91:11). In God’s love for the faithful, Heavenly Angels were created and assigned to assist us in the earthly walk, but without interfering with free will. Mystical, beyond natural human comprehension, Angels are divinely designed to guide us supernaturally to discover the authentic love of God’s creation; especially our role in bridging Heaven to Earth through bearing the nine fruits of Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
There are multiple occasions through the course of my lifetime that I’ve experienced the visitation of Angels. These sacred intercessions with my Band of Angels have ushered me through lessons of humility and compassion; revealed a path of hope through darkness; broken the grip of evil forces; protected from dangerous and harmful situations; healed from toxic elements; whispered spiritual truths through dreams; created prosperity in adversity; and recently a prophetic revelation that I’m a messenger. I believe in miracles, and Angels too.
It was a saturating humid evening in Woodbridge, Virginia when I left the house for a ritual run. While exercise is the most common reason for running, for me it was equally a solitary occasion for meditation. The running route was along a less travelled road with no street lights, only the illumination of stars for safe passage underfoot. I remember that summer evening how quiet and dark the countryside unfolded as I made my way for a leisurely 5 mile jaunt. A serene peace came over me as I released all thoughts associated with a difficult season of my life; like that unhealthy energy had just passed through me. While in that euphoric state of mind, I spontaneously praised God in thankfulness for the sphere of grace which I seemed to have entered. Instantly the darkness was filled with millions of flickering micro-lights, reminiscent of a swarm of fireflies or lightning bugs. I was immersed in overwhelming love, and startled by a visitation of celestial Angels. The message of that miraculous moment:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10)
Core beliefs posture thinking for all things possible, often against insurmountable odds. Gratitude, as an example, is a deeply biblical concept. The Old Testament feasts were celebrations of God’s goodness and reminders to the Israelites to give thanks for all things. The Psalmists were continually thanking God, especially in their trials. It should come as no surprise that the secular world has embraced the values of gratitude. In his book, Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Dr. Robert Emmons conducted a study to see the effects of thankfulness on everyday life. The results revealed that people with a heart of gratitude felt happier, more optimistic, and healthier. Frame the spiritual mind for continuous gratitude to cultivate a Heavenly soul.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).
Embrace Everything with Love and Gratitude. All of it. The good, bad, and ugly. For the joy, relish the majesty the Universe has beholden. For the painful, tough, and challenging seasons of life, ride it out until the lessons have been learned. This principled practice aligns us for connection with God and His Creation. Through this connection of energy, there’s a confluence of purpose, peace, and prosperity. Our Band of Angels are nearby to help shepherd the way to our destiny as children of an Awesome God.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).
When hope’s candlelight may seem to flicker, speak bravely for your Band of Angels.
Angels rally to faint whispers, pleading for mercy and protection. On every side their wings gently feather stale air that draws Heaven's grace to heal. Refreshed, all spheres are strengthened. For faith is the miraculous tonic that sustains through the storms, shaping lessons, enriching the soul. Darkness passes through me with a vulnerable embrace, anointed with the armor of love and gratitude. Come upon me, dear Angels, for rest and assurance that delivers me.