In a city like Dublin, even in the aftermath of the implosion of a property bubble, space is at a premium, and personal space is something of an illusion when most of what we have is shared in various types of social community. The result is that quite often we feel besieged by the demands of the world around us and the demands of other competing worlds. When too many people and pressures come tumbling in over the walls that we have built up around our personal space we can lose patience – we can even explode. We defend ourselves by erecting walls around our little sanctuaries so that we can have a safe place away from the world; a place to rest, think, to be ourselves – a place or a retreat for ourselves. Not always is it possible to keep these walls and boundaries perfectly intact and how we behave when they fall can say a great deal about the person that built them up in the first place. I don’t have many of these retreats anymore, and the ones that I do have are more temporal now than spatial, and I can explode when space invaders come a-wandering in.
Sunday evening is one of my special times. It is a time that I have set aside for to let my soul catch up with the often frantic busy-ness of my mind and body. In the little historic chapel of St. James’s Hospital I meet with others to worship. Generally it is a quiet time of reflection and prayer, where in the celebration of the Eucharist or the saying of Evening Prayer I get a chance to relax and unwind from the week just passed, and charge up my reserves in preparation for the week about to begin. Tonight a stranger arrived. He was drunk and perhaps a bit touched. His constant interruption of the service had me driven to absolute distraction. The Gospel of Mark spoke of the driving out of a wicked spirit – and I couldn’t help but think of getting all biblical on this stranger. Thoughts like this only said more about me, and I was aware of this. So my thoughts turned to the entertainment of angels often unknown to us. Drunk and crazy angels don’t get much mention in Christian tradition, but we are in the business of making new traditions. So I welcomed the infuriating angel, and gave thanks.