The Angel and the Beast


I was walking down the corridor of my hear when I saw them–saw them locked in combat.

It was an awe-inspiring sight.  It shook me.  I saw the angel of light, all love, all joy, utter goodness, locked in combat with a hideous beast, its features contored by arrogance and greed.

I could not take my eyes away.  Behind the strange spectacle, something felt familiar–vaguely yet deeply familiar.

And then I saw it– and what I saw shook me to my bones.  Both the angel and the beast had the same features.  Behind the ecstatic angelic look and the contorted sneer of evil was the same face–my face!

Oh, my God, I am both an angel of light and the breeding nest of evil.  I am the heart where Christ and Buddha are born;  I am the pit where forces of evil gather. My destiny is infinitely loftier than I thought;  I carry both heaven and hell within me.  What unbounded oceans I hold– a sea of good and a sea of evil!  I can rise to the most sublime heights or sink to unthinkable depravity.

O save me, save me from my own darkness, from hidden whirlpoos of cruelty and greed.  May I never let evil triumph in me; may the demon never conquer the angel.

The guiding hand waits to help me, to mold me in goodness, in love, in joy.  You long to make me like You, a ray of Your light, Your peace, Your compassion.

You have put Your seal upon my heart; I remain Yours forever.  Let me never give in to evil.  Let me not become a heap of garbage, when I can be a brilliant star.

Oh, what a divine lineage of mine!  I am Your image, Your child, Your very own.  I excel the stars in brightness, for You live deep within my heart.

And yet, and yet, I can sink incredibly lowe.  I can smear Your image with filth.  I can lock love out, entertain hit, and breed monsters where angels were to be born.

Oh, help me, heal me, steady my heart!  I am too much for me to handle!  My greatness fascinates and frightens me.  I am a riddle waiting to be solved–to be solved over and over again.  I am a question, a mystery, a labyrinth.  I am both messiah and tyrant, deliverer and prison.  I am both Christ and Judas, loving avatar and treacherous betrayer.  The righteous Rama and the insolent Ravana are both my kin.  Oh, save me from the pits I myself dig!  Lead me to the shore of love's gentle light.  all through my earthly journey, this deadly combat goes on.  All the holiness I venerate in shrines, and all the evils I decry in the world, are found right here–in my heart.  I can be the saviour of the world, or the root of its rot.

I take Your hnad and lay it on my head.  I seek Your guiding light.  Your power is greater than my struggle;  no evil pull is a match for Your lvoe.

Trusting You, I go forth to face the day.  I will choose truth over lies; compassion over cowardice.  Justice and mercy I will serve.

Oh, may I be the child of light I am called to be.  May divine power break through the darkness. May good triumph in superabundant mesure, and turn me into an angel of light.

In the battlefield of my heart, in the decisions I take today, I want goodness to be the winner.

I want that to happen right now, in the very next decision I take.

Help me; show me how.

Note:  From the book "The Mystery of Me:  Confronting our Longings and Discovering Love" by Joe Mannath, S.D.B.


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