Angel Of The Silences
I’ve been thinking alot about angels.
Before Christmas, it was Gabriel. I’m not sure why. Maybe the Lamb song. Maybe the guy I met on tour. I said, “I’ve been trying to write a song about Gabriel, you know, the angel.” And he goes, “Archangel, dude.”
Seems to be an angel is to perform a specific function, not just be some kind of holy spirit with wings. Angels deliver messages. Archangels deliver really important messages.
I visited Bethesda this morning. I’ve been making myself run, even when I don’t want to, which is most of the time. I know intellectually that it’s good for my soul, even if my body would rather lie in bed and mope. It was rainy and gray and cold this morning. And I was wearing shorts, which was stupid. I ran behind the Natural History Museum, down into the Central Park, south on the bridle path, east on the 72d Street transverse, along the edge of The Lake, over the Bow Bridge, and around her. I was kind of embarrassed to circle her, for some reason, as if someone (who — the one dude walking his dog?) might notice me, might notice how drawn to her I was, might know how desperate I felt.
Bethesda is the Angel of the Waters. In the Bible, John writes about her touching a pool in Jerusalem. Anyone who walks through the pool would be healed.
“… whoever then first after the troubling of the waters stepped in was made whole…”
The epilogue of “Angels in America” is entitled, “Bethesda.” The principle characters sit on the edge of the fountain discussing the Millennium. When it comes — not Y2K, but The Millennium, The Second Coming, The Apocalypse — they say that the “suffering, in the body or the spirit, [and] walked through the waters of the fountain of Bethesda, would be healed, washed clean of pain.”
And in Thorton Wilder’s play, “The Angel that Troubled the Waters,” the angel tells a downtrodden and crestfallen physician:
“Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve.”
I’ve been drawn to Bethesda for years, but I never really knew anything about her. I just liked how graceful she looked, how still and tranquil. And I always felt a little better after each visit. I learned all the other stuff over time, which only makes the attraction more meaningful.
I’ve been throwing a private pity party for myself of late, occasionally dragging you along. True, I pledged to myself (and others) to practice honesty and vulnerability, which means that if I’m down, you’ve been more likely to know about it (as opposed to only writing about what I’m doing, where I’m going, and skipping all of the interior stuff). But that’s got to end. Not the honesty and vulnerability, that’s gonna’ continue. But the “woe is me” shit doesn’t serve anyone, least of all me.
Most of the MTV News team drove out to Union, NJ, this morning for the funeral of our friend and colleague Doug Krueger. I’ve known few people in my life who’ve left such a positive impression. He was assigned to online for last fall’s Video Music Awards, and I threw one challenge after another at him. Time after time he simply smiled, and said, “Not a problem.”
“Not a problem.” On scale with 160,000, deaths by tsunami, or single mother losing her only son, my problems are, well, not a problem. They are mine, though, and, empathy notwithstanding; I can’t be anywhere or feel anything outside of my own skin. But I can ask myself, ‘What am without my wounds?’ And I can remind myself, through deeds and words, to persist.
If angels are divine messengers, then today — right now — Doug is mine. For me, and for all of us, he says quietly, and confidently, “Not a problem.” And then he ascends.