Guardian Angels

Today, in celebrating the guardian angels, we celebrate God’s care for creation. For ourselves certainly, but for the whole created world too. The God who made the world loves it. The God who fashioned you loves you.
But what we celebrate particularly today is the way God’s love and care is mediated by creation itself. All we know of God we know by being embodied in this world; God’s touch of care comes to us through the crowd of creatures with which we share our lives.
It’s become increasingly obvious in the last decades that we, little creatures, are having a impact beyond our scale on our planet, our corner of creation. Our own care for ourselves has been at the expense of the careful balance sustaining the globe we share.
One Christian response has been to begin to talk about ourselves as stewards of creation—as if we have been given the task of guarding and conserving while the owner is away; as if we were owning up to our impact but promising to use our power for the good.
The celebration today ought to make us blush at such hubris. What the guardian angels remind us is that it is creation which is our steward and not the other way around. The tradition tells us that countless created agencies have an interest in creation beyond our own. Once upon a time every place and people, every trade and time, had their presiding angel, the guardian of their welfare, the agent of God’s concern, the echo of significances far from everyday. On the whole we’ve lost the ear for such spirits, learned not to see them. Even if the shiver down our spine in certain places still takes us by surprise. Even if we long as a culture to be visited by angels and live in world alive with presence.
We were not made to steward but to be stewarded. At least not entirely. What role we have we have to learn.
If we have guardian angels, I imagine so too do the elephant and the mosquito, the salmon river and the slag heap, the ozone layer and the ocean deep. Our first job is not to guard and guide but to be guarded and guided. We need to listen to how God’s care for creation is mediated and carried by creation itself. And that’s a skill the tradition calls discernment of spirits and nowhere can it better be learned than on retreat.