Remember to welcome strangers into your homes.
There were some who did that and welcomed angels without knowing it.
“We don’t have William,” Ron Dobson said as he closed his cell phone. “He’s come down with a bug.”
The threesome stood outside the clubhouse in their snappy golf outfits and looked forlorn. It was a crisp Saturday morning, and they were eager to play. Now their plans would need revision.
Phil was secretly pleased, as he really didn’t like golf. He was here for political reasons. Phil was mid-way up the career ladder, and playing golf was expected of him. He stood just under six feet tall. Because of his recent return to surfing, he was tanned and slimming down. His brown hair was thinning and graying at the temples. Piercing brown eyes overlooked a bland face and receding chin.
A clear confident voice penetrated the threesome’s gloom, “They said you needed someone to complete your foursome.”
The group turned to the voice and beheld a strikingly elegant, blond-haired man dressed in white, rounding the corner of the clubhouse. A caddy trailed him.
“I’m Manuel Archon,” the man said. “May I join you?”
Ron smiled, “Well, sure. You can be Phil’s partner.”
Manuel turned to Phil and extended his hand. Phil reluctantly shook it. The day, Phil thought, had just gone from hopeful to terrifying.
The foursome, accompanied by their caddies, walked from the shade of the clubhouse into the bright sunlight. Mounting their carts, they headed for the first tee. The drive was short. The trees swayed in a soft breeze. A pastoral quiet surrounded them, broken only with the distant call of ‘fore.’
Phil, sitting next to Manuel, asked softly, “What are you doing here?”
Over the whine of the electric cart, Manuel chuckled, “Playing cow pasture pool with you and your yuppie buddies.”
Not amused, Phil replied, “I’ve finally got my life back on track, Manuel. I don’t need you to screw it up again.”
“Yeah, so your guardian angel told me,” Manuel commented. “I talked it over with Metatron, and he sent me to rekindle our relationship. God knows, I was content to let you wallow around in the comfort of yuppie narcissistic nirvana. You can blame this visit on Metatron.”
Phil knew Metatron was an honorary angel in charge of sustaining mankind. When human, he was the Prophet Enoch, who was taken alive into heaven. Once there, he assumed the duties of God’s prime minister. In Phil’s last adventure, Metatron coordinated a tricky set of maneuvers to prevent a hostile take-over by the fundamentalist Jehovah and the Christian Devil. Phil was integral to the plan. This seemed an odd way to repay him.
Phil sighed and groaned, “I don’t want to deal with you people anymore.”
The carts stopped at the first tee.
As Ron’s partner prepared to tee off, Ron asked Manuel, “What business are you in?”
Ron adjusted his sagging pants below his substantial belly and looked down the fairway, not really interested in the reply.
“Real estate,” Manuel replied. “Celestial Acres is my company’s name, but we haven’t been able to crack the Western markets.”
“Celestial Acres?” Ron snickered as he sorted through the golf bag for his driver. “Haven’t heard of them. Sounds more like a funeral home for pets, doesn’t it, Jake?”
Jake, Ron’s partner, paused in his ritual of preparing the ball for its flight and commented, “Death is good business.”
They all laughed as Phil, Ron, and Jake worked for an insurance company. Ron and Jake were senior vice presidents, while Phil was an aspiring section leader at their company. Manuel, on the other hand, was an archangel to whom Phil was mysteriously bound.
As the game progressed, Manuel and Phil argued over the prospect of Phil’s return to the world of Spirit.
Phil wanted to know, “Why would Metatron care? In the grand scheme of things, why would it be important for me to evolve so quickly?”
“Good question,” Manuel replied. “I asked the same one. Most folks visit the next evolutionary plateaus many times before they actually migrate up.”
“Well?” Phil prompted, since the angel hadn’t actually answered the question.
“He wouldn’t say,” Manuel said and took the club offered by his caddy and strolled to make his shot.
At the next hole, when Ron and Jake were out of listening range, Manuel was more forth coming, “I think it has something to do with the power of the patriarchy. Metatron has been fretting about it lately. You’ve got the solid conservative group, committed to family values -- whatever that means. Then you’ve got the forever-twittering secular humanists -- who can’t see the difference between fish and people. In the middle of it all are the rational business folks who lack a sense of morality. Metatron thinks the patriarchy is the key to breaking the log-jam.”
“The obvious one,” Manuel snapped. “Your society is stagnant, trapped in economic boom and bust cycles. But what if the patriarchy could find a way to transcend its limitations? What if male power could balance itself with female power? Wouldn’t that be something?”
Phil considered those questions through the complete play of the next two holes. Since Phil’s early years as a hippie invested him with egalitarian principles, Manuel’s questions refreshed those dormant concerns. The patriarchy was a problem.
However, those concerns snoozed because hippies could never develop a workable program to enlist women to the cause. In fact, women defeated the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. Men overwhelmingly voted for it. Women, it seemed to Phil, were keeping the patriarchy in power.
“How does Metatron think it would work?” Phil eventually asked.
“Don’t know. You’ll have to ask him yourself.”
“But I don’t want to go back.”
“Fine with me,” Manuel returned. “Just don’t start meditating again. You’re still stuck going to my patio if you do.”
Which was how this whole thing began, Phil remembered. For some unknown reason, Phil’s meditation practice (the sole left-over from his hippie days) brought him to Manuel’s patio. They figured God linked their brainwaves together so that now Manuel’s patio was Phil’s only destination -- that is, until Phil could learn to navigate the realms of Spirit on his own. It was Manuel’s job to teach him those arcane skills.
“I’m surprised you could clean up the mess,” Manuel commented, referring to the events of their last adventure together.
During that episode, not only Ron, but Phil’s wife Betty were ready for drastic measures to save Phil from himself -- or, on the other hand, to defend their own sense of reality at Phil’s expense. Ron was Betty’s cousin, and they showed simple yuppie values vouchsafed in a simple fundamentalist religion. Ron was an elder in the church, and Betty was a member of church committees and clubs. With the sudden death of Pastor Jones (which some said was Phil’s doing), the church community went through a major reorganization. In the confusion, Phil was able to slowly mend the broken fences -- most of which he secretly blamed on Manuel.
“It took some doing,” Phil muttered. “And I don’t want to risk turning my life upside-down again. I can only spin things so far.”
Manuel snickered, “You might as well give it up and join a monastery. You can’t un-know what you know.”
Phil came at it from a different angle, “What does Metatron think the fix might be?”
Manuel shrugged, “Balance. It’s always balance. Lately, though, he’s been ranting about Boomer narcissism.”
Phil couldn’t imagine Metatron ranting about anything. The prime minister of heaven was unflappable. Instead of pointing this out, Phil asked, “Boomer narcissism?”
“You know,” Manuel’s voice was becoming sharper. The tone signaled he was becoming irritated. What irritated the angel was stupidity. He confronted Phil’s current stupidity with, “All you Boomers have the same thing in common. Whether you’ve regressed back to the comfort of black-and-white thinking, or you’re stuck in a deconstructed wasteland, you all agree, ‘Nobody tells ME what to do.’ It’s the defining characteristic of Boomers. Plus the fact you think you can save the world by telling everybody else what to do.”
Phil let this summary of his generation ride for the next few holes before he admitted, “I can’t escape my own evolution, can I?”
“Nope,” Manuel replied. “Life is a voyage into the unknown of your own potential. Stagnate and you die.”
“I’ll see you tonight,” Phil murmured.