Tuesday 16 June 2020

My Guardian Angel

     In my next few Blogs I would like to discuss the topics of my mother,  sex and religion. Art is an important topic for me too but I have already discussed that quite a lot. Basically what I am setting out to do is describe how I encountered in childhood the values I finally espoused as an adult.

     I have had a strong belief since I was a child in my Guardian Angel. I was taught to say a prayer in bed at night that I still say:
          "Now I lay me down to sleep,
           I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
           And if I die before I wake
           I pray the Lord my soul to take."
     Another one went:
          "Four angels round my bed:
            Two angels at my head:
            One to watch and one to pray
            And two to carry my soul away."
I no longer pray the second one. Instead, every morning, I say the following prayer:
          "Angel of God, my Guardian dear.
           To whom God's love commits me here,
           Ever this day be at my side
          To light, to guard,
          To rule and to guide."

     Having a continuing interest in the occult which I inherited from my mother along with a belief in more orthodox religion, I read the autobiography of the famous medium, Sylvia Browne, several years ago, and was surprised to learn that when she said this first prayer as a child she was frightened by it.  She certainly got over that fear later on as she came to communicate with the dead in public and on a very grand scale. But although I have never tried being a medium, I was certainly not frightened by it. I have always accepted death as a perfectly natural part of life and nothing to be afraid of. This is something I heard from my mother  again and again. There was a little piece of family history she told to inculcate it.

     My mother's mother died giving birth to her and as it was considered improper for her father to have sole charge  of a little girl she was brought up by his mother. My mother much admired her grandmother for her warm heart, her neighbourly ways and her endless generosity. She gave me her grandmother's name of Barbara in the hope that I would turn out to be like her. Certainly my mother wanted all her children to meet death in the same way her grandmother had done because she told us all the same story. When her grandmother was quite old and living alone, her favourite brother came to visit her. He told her a funny story which made her laugh. Then she leaned back in her chair, closed her eyes, smiling, and stopped talking. Half an hour later he realised she was dead.

     We all listened to this story suitably impressed with the exception of my youngest sister, Annabel. When my mother started out, "Now, Annabel, you mustn't be afraid  of death," Annabel retorted "Oh, no, Mummy, I'm not afraid of death. I've always longed to be a dear little worm!" My mother and Annabel were living in Texas at the time and I was living in Illinois. My mother thought Annabel's retort was so funny that she wrote to me about it. But I had never put up the same resistance.

     When I was around ten years old I fell ill with cerebro-spinal meningitis. I could not keep any food down. Every time I ate I threw up. I hated it so much I actually wanted to die. I was quite prepared for an angel to carry my soul away. Or two angels, as the case might be. And I have always been aware since then that life was a gift that would some day be taken away, there was no knowing when. The idea doesn't bother me. Although when the meningitis didn't kill me, my mother and I considered that a cause for celebration.  The doctors had just invented a pill for it.

     Where angels were concerned I had read about Abraham entertaining angels in his tent. Later I was to read about an angel coming to Mary and other angels announcing the birth of Jesus to some shepherds. My mother had handed me the King James Bible when I was six and told me to read it, but without offering a word of explanation.Apparently she thought the meaning was perfectly clear and self explanatory.

     I loved stories so much that my mother had taught me to read at the age of four so that I could read stories for myself and wouldn't be pestering her to read to me all day long. Here was a brand new big book of stories for me to read, so I got on with it. I already knew the Alice books so I followed the advice of the King of Hearts: "Begin at the beginning and go on to the end, then stop." Alice was already my role model, but I was quite prepared to accept other role models. And so I began at the beginning with the Book of Genesis, which rather puzzled me, as at first I was simply not prepared to accept the story of the  Fall.

     My highly trained nursemaid, Nurse Edith Boone, known as my Nanny, had taught me to think and  reflect and apparently she had given me the idea that that was the idea that that was what God wanted us to do. I was sure that God wanted us to know as much as possible and shocked that anyone should maintain that there was anything he didn't want us to know. But I didn't want to be hasty so I went off to a quiet place and reflected on it. Then it came to me that knowing Good and Evil wasn't the same thing as knowing facts as you can't know Evil without being affected by it. So the story did make sense after all.

      Nurse Boone left us when I was six so I hadn't actually discussed the Bible with her, so far as I remember. With the outbreak of the Second World War she considered it her patriotic duty to work in a munitions factory. I have been told that she was a member of a religious sect called the Plymouth Brethren who are apparently not unlike Conservative Quakers, although without being pacifists. They are so staid that they drove Aleister Crowley to rebel against them by becoming a black magician. Perhaps that is what they are generally best known for.

     Age six was an important time for me. The war started, Nurse Boone left, I started reading the Bible and my mother started supplying me with quite horrendous sexual information. Just as she wanted all her children to be prepared for death, so she wanted us all to know about "the facts of life."
As a trained nurse she knew this was important. But she never mentioned that they had any connection with love, which I think was an important omission. The total effect was quite frightening and fitted in with what I was reading in the Bible about Sodom and Gomorrah.  However it turned out to be quite useful in a practical kind of way because when I met a child molester  when I was coming home in the dark along a deserted road four years later I knew exactly what to think of him and his offer to teach me games I'd never played before. I thank my Guardian Angel for showing me exactly how to get away from him and get safely home unharmed. My Guardian Angel is very resourceful. With that I end my tribute to him.




1 comment:

  1. Having a guardian Angel is a pretty nice thing!!!