I was reading, just this afternoon, John Connolly’s book The Wrath of Angels. Its the latest book in his Charlie Parker detective series. The books have more and more come to centre on the question of the nature of Parker himself. He is a troubled man who may, it seems, actually be ‘some kind of’ rebel angel seeking ‘some kind of redemption’ through acting as a kind of (there are alot of ‘kind of’s’ here) avenging angel, visiting justice on the guilty on behalf of the, frequently deceased, victims. Parker is a complex character who deals with some very dark topics (and characters) and seeks to repair something of the imbalance which evil has wrought in the world, though generally employs violence as a means of re-establishing balance. All sounds very dark but it is also very well written and Connolly himself is a very jovial and funny guy.
In this latest book, Parker is talking with Epstein, a Rabbi who concerns himself with hunting down rebel angels who walk the earth. Epstein is troubled by his own worries regarding Parker’s nature and one exchange of thoughts in particular had me thinking. The following struck me:
“My fear, as I explained to you last night, is that there may be a presence within you that has not yet revealed itself,” said Epstein.
“And I told you that, if I was like them, whatever was sleeping inside me would have awakened by now. There were so many times when, if I was a host for something foul lying dormant in me, it could have shrugged off its torpor and intervened to save those like it, but it didn’t. It didn’t because it isn’t there.” (Parker speaking)
The Wrath of Angels, Hardback p231 (UK edition).
Epstein is worried there may be a kind of (those pesky ‘kind of’s’ again!) evil presence lurking within Parker, unknown, or perhaps suspected by Parker himself. Parker is convinced this isn’t so and while he tries to persuade Epstein of this one gets the feeling he may also be trying to convince himself.
But when I read those words “…there may be a presence within you that has not yet revealed itself…” my thoughts went in a different direction. I thought not of any possible evil presence asleep within a person which waits to awaken, but rather of the way our personalities change over the years, normal, well balanced personalities.
I thought of myself as I am now and the various mindsets, beliefs and thought patterns I currently have. When I was a young boy I didn’t have those same thoughts, when I was a teenager I had different views to when I was a young boy. When I am an old man, although my core beliefs will, I think, remain the same, I will still have different, more evolved views and character traits.
The person within each of us changes as our circumstances changes, as our education grows and as our experiences, good and bad, shape us. Perhaps you, like me, have said “I am a different person now to the one I was then.” or “I don’t recognise myself any more.”
We change, we grow, our thought patterns go through reformation and revision and that ‘inner core’ of who we are, our very souls, grow also. Those words “…there may be a presence within you that has not yet revealed itself…” spoke to me of how I may be in years to come, when life’s twists and turns, and my responses to them, mould and shape the ‘inner me’. This is a healthy thing, as long as that core remains healthy.
I have always had a sense of God in my life, from the earliest times I can remember. While my core beliefs remain the same, there are many peripheral elements of my faith that have changed over the years. I see and understand things as an adult that I did not as a child, and there are elements of adventure and unbounded imagination that I loved as a child that are more repressed in my adult state. I would love to reverse that. Maybe in ten years time I will look back and once more not recognise the person that I am now as I type this. That can work in good and bad and neutral ways.
We change, we grow, we evolve in our beliefs, views and personalities. Sometimes we can even sense the beginnings of a transformation within us when it is only starting to emerge and that can be both exciting and fearful. In Christian language, you might call this a lifelong process of sanctification with many turning points along the way. It can be described simply as the evolution of the soul.
I hope and pray for a happy and fulfilling transformation into a person who grows gradually older and wiser (the latter has always been a slow process for me) and whose core values are those that remain solid and sure even as the branches that grow from that core change and alter with the passing seasons, storms and sunshine alike.
May the person you are and the person you will be, always be one whose core remains true to the Creator of your soul, even as the person you are changes and grows.
Thanks for reading