Angel Voice – Encountering the Shadow
They called him “angel voice”. For when Jonathan sang, the gentle feathered wings of an angel brushed against your soul. One day, this angel hovered above Jonathan’s choir stall after the song, and dropped a golden feather into his lap. The angel whispered to him: “Keep this gift close to your heart, Jonathan. One day your voice will carry the music of God.” This unseen messenger startled Jonathan, for he was just a boy. By the time he sought out his wise teacher, fright had turned to excitement. “The music of God”, said his teacher with deep seriousness”, comes from a heart open to God”. He smiled and lovingly dismissed Jonathan to go play with the other boys. Mother had beamed at the child’s news, wishing for this day to come quickly. Granny smiled, but also sighed, holding these events close within her heart. The child became diligent with his music. He wished to please God and his mother.
As Jonathan sang, his eyes moved upwards from his musical score. Not until a couple of years later did he first look down to check people’s responses to his singing. He now became aware his singing noticeably impacted on people. After that realisation, he began to glance both up and down.
One day, when glancing down, out of the corner of his eye, Jonathan noticed a boy of his own age, whom, though strangely familiar, he was sure he had never met. After his song he examined this boy closely. The boy’s features were similar to his own. However, where Jonathan was fair, the boy was dark. Where his eyes were blue, the other’s eyes were almost black. The boy caught Jonathan looking and grinned back. It happened again at the next service. Jonathan looked down to check the response to his singing. There was the boy grinning at him. As the choir processed passed the boy’s pew, he thrust a note at Jonathan that read: “Want to play?” Meet me at the back door of the church. Jack.” Jonathan did meet him, and they played.
Soon the two boys were thick as thieves. Jack quickly drew Jonathan into adventure, encouraging him in risk and in much mischief. The two boys were inseparable through boyhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Gradually Jack’s invitation to adventure came to include theft, drunkenness and loose living. Jonathan could just manage to draw back from his wild companion for study and performance. All the while, Jonathan’s most tolerant and long-suffering music teacher witnessed the emergence of the finest tenor voice of his musical experience. However, Jonathan’s heart would quickly return to where his growing appetite for dark desire was his shadowy companion’s delight to grant.
The day Jonathan discovered he had lost the angel feather was when he saw the tension and contradiction of his two lives. How could he live in such wretchedness while grandly mouthing words of faith? Jonathan felt cleaved in two. And, having led him into wretchedness, the shadowy Jack vanished. While he had grown to despise Jack, he was afraid and alone in his absence. Jonathan could suffer the split no longer. He succumbed to wretchedness. To avoid forever the world of heavenly music, he dyed his hair and beard jet black and fashioned a horrific mask that he fixed with permanence to his face. The world could now see him as he truly was. Never again could he sing the songs of the God, whom in both mind and deed, he considered he had so deeply grieved.
After what appeared to be an eternity of wretchedness and despair, Jonathan could face himself no longer. The depleted prodigal returned to the church to prostrate himself before the statue of Christ adjacent to his vacated choir stall. Late into the night he begged and he pleaded with Christ to take the last breath from this most wretched and impoverished soul, and to do with it what it did indeed deserve. Only death could take this suffering away. Exhausted from such pleading, he fell into a very deep sleep.
Jonathan awoke with a start, to find a ray of sunlight stretching across his curled-up body. There, only inches from his face, was the lost golden angel feather. Large droplets of water were splashing on his face. As he touched his face, his finger-tips felt his own soft skin. In fright he sat up, and as he did, caught the reflection of his face in a highly polished brass adornment. Completely vanished was the horrific mask, revealing in its place a fair and handsome face that Jonathan took much time to recognised as his own. How could such droplets of water have dissolved such a permanent fixture along with the dye from his hair and beard? Looking up he searched for the water’s source. The droplets were flowing as great tear drops from the eyes of Christ. When he found trickles of blood among the tears, he glanced again and saw that the Christ had suffered much bringing about this miraculous redemption. With a voice revealing signs of great weariness, the Christ spoke: “Go now to your teacher, Jonathan. He is ready to receive you.” The wise mentor did indeed receive him, and with a warm embrace, led him to his place in the choir. Jonathan’s surprising reinstatement happened as though he had been absent for little more than a week. Could it be that the angel, or even Christ himself, had stood in his place during the long period of his wretched absence?
Jonathan did go on, with the voice of an angel, to sing the music of God. The very notes came from a place so deep within his soul, a place well below his brokenness and splitness: a place touched by the tears of Christ himself. Jonathan knew that he deserved nothing of this. From that time on, movements in the eyes and hearts of people during his singing gave rise to gratitude and deep humility. Jonathan did consider that he had died. Through this death his gift became service to the one who had breathed new life into his soul. To Jonathan, the least and most broken of all the saints, this grace was given: to sing of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
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