I’ve been thinking about angels a lot lately. Jim and I recently finished watching the HBO series of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and it’s the type of film that stays with you for a while after it ends. The play, set in New York City during the 80’s, focuses around Prior Walter, a gay man with AIDS, and his partner Louis who, fearing the ickyness of the disease, leaves Prior. At the same time, the story also follows a Mormon couple from Salt Lake City who’ve moved to NYC. The wife is addicted to Valium and going crazy, and the husband (a Republican) is a closeted gay man. Oh, and this Republican is friends with Roy Cohn.
Not the typical setting for angels, you say? Well, it turns out that Prior is a prophet; a beautiful (and somewhat ditsy) angel visits him frequently. If you haven’t seen Angels in America, you must, because I just cannot do justice to Kushner’s philosophical ideas about New York City, America, God.
Since watching this movie, and being so moved by it, I’ve been thinking about angels a lot. Could I believe in angels? That sounds like blasphemy to my atheist ears! Once again, I headed to the dictionary to try and make sense of my thoughts.
Look! I thought. I can believe in angels. Definition 5 clearly states that an angel can exist in my frame of mind, while definition 6 makes oh, so much sense in relation to Angels in America (isn’t it wonderful when you unexpectantly learn a new definition?)
There’s something so impressive about the symbol of angels. The word comes from the Greek “angelos,” or “messenger” and I love believing in a being that pushes me further than my usual realm of thought—angels, in the form of books, people, art, that send me messages and broaden my understanding of the world.
I believe I meet angels all the time—two of whom sent me and Jim the gorgeous Christmas card above. Erica and Jim Haba, Erica a painter and Jim a poet, created this work to send around to their friends and family at Christmas, reminding us of the angels of definition 5. I adore Erica’s angels, with their exquisite tawny faces, and Jim’s poem perfectly (almost eerily) captures my groping to decipher angels lately—as well as makes a much-needed statement on the affairs of America today.
These angel too
marvelous, holy, ecstatic
determined, generous, enduring,
alien, penniless, vagrant,
unschooled, unsponsored, undocumented
immigrants among us. -Jim Haba, 2007
This holiday, I hope to remember the angels that wander around earth everyday. The angels that help us understand, respect, love, and deserve their kindnesses. This holiday, I also hope to give them cookies.
Chocolate Chip Cookies Worthy of Angels
makes about 40-50 cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2½ cups AP flour
1 bag chocolate chunks (bigger than chips), about 12 oz. or 2 cupsMethod
Preheat oven to 375º. Grease a cookie sheet (or two if you can fit them in your oven).
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter for 1 minute. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Beat until combined well. Ad eggs and vanilla and beat until doubled or tripled in size. Beat in however much flour you can (until the mix is to thick to beat) and then switch to a wooden spoon and mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
Roll cookies into small round balls (about the size of regular chocolate truffles.) Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake each batch of cookies 8-10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool. ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAYS!!!