Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Angel Pig

I am currently sitting in a restaurant in a town called Baile Tusnad in the Harghita mountains in Transylvania. I am waiting for a mechanic.

I’ve been having adventures.

The day before yesterday I went out into the wild with a Hungarian doctor, his TV producer son, and a gamekeeper called Istvan. Istvan had this dark weather beaten face which glowed with a sort of inner kindliness. We were looking for wild boar.

We cast corn about in the soil, then climbed up a platform hidden in a tree and waited. We spoke only in subdued whispers. It was about eight o’clock in the evening, and the sky was just turning red. We waited and we waited. I began to think they might not turn up.

And then, suddenly, we saw these dark shapes emerging from the trees, muscular and huge with hulking shoulders and craggy heads like great black rocks, with curling tusks and wet noses, snorting and trotting up the hill with a sort of hungry wariness, cautiously looking around them for any possible danger. They were a family group of about ten individuals, snuffling about and rooting in the soil for the corn.

I immediately had a sense of them there, not just physically, but psychically too. There was an alertness, a bright keenness like a spark, hidden in that dark, mean-looking form. I was suddenly aware of being in the presence of another kind of intelligence than my own. I felt that they were communicating with me on some level that I have yet to access with my ordinary mind.

Then, later, I drove home along all these twisting roads down the steep mountain-side, back to the house I am staying in, and about two miles from home my brakes failed. I pulled in to the side of the road, letting the car glide to a halt. Then my heart pumped with sudden adrenaline as I realised that, had they failed a few miles further back as I was coming down that mountain-side, with all the twists and turns giving way to sheer drops, I would certainly have died.

It is in moments like this that you feel as if you are being watched-over somehow. Is there a guardian angel out there looking out for me, I wonder?

If I was a Catholic I would have crossed myself, kissed my rosary, and thanked Jesus, God, Mary and all the saints and angels together. As it was I could only thank whatever higher powers there might be that my life had been spared this time.

Scientifically speaking, of course, this is an absurd thought. What higher power? And anyway, even assuming there was such a thing, why would it save me and not someone else? Maybe someone else had died in my stead that night. People die all the time. Maybe I was just lucky.

And yet I can’t quite get over the feeling that something was looking out for me, that something “other”, something alien and unknowable, some intelligence greater than mine, nevertheless cares for me, is concerned for me, and wishes me well. Maybe it was not my time to die. My brakes must have been failing all the way down the mountain. Something held them off till I was in a position to get myself home in safety.

What does an angel look like, I wonder?

Isaiah describes them as fearsome creatures with six wings. When he saw them he quaked with fear and wonder. One of them carried a burning coal from the fire and touched it to his lips to take away his sins.

Me, right at this moment, I imagine my guardian angel as a human-shaped wild boar, with a craggy face with tusks and keen bright eyes full of alert intelligence.

I can’t help feeling that I won’t be allowed to die till I have learned what the wild boar were telling me that night.

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