photo by Irene Teesalu, Estonia

From Hebrews 13:2 —“ Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” [1]

Breathe in

Breathe out


Still, now

Let the angels brush you

cool clear spirits dancing

across your skin


Breathe in

gilding the air as they still you

—lips, tongue, throat, lungs

limbs, organs, blood-heat, pulse-beat—


angels in your mind

tapping your fingers

dancing in your toes


Breathe out

release them

let them be borne off

on airy wings.


Breathe in—out.


You are ready, now, to entertain them

strange as they seem

syntax of fire and air.

They sail towards me on the harbour

white angels

skimming dawn-gilt waves


As I make coffee

they float—just through the window


and on the weekend

as I munch my toast

they race towards the Strait

white wings unfurled

skimming the dance-floor of the up-side-down sky.


Bright red and buzzing

like an anxious mother

the rescue angel

rotor-blades the sky

slicing the clouds


Wellington's Westpac Rescue Helicopters - photo at

(Breathe in.  Breathe out.)


Do not forget them.


Do not forget the strangers

at your door

as you raise your glass

toast the new year

the past

the absent friends

the end of term

the auld acquaintances

—the birth of a long ago child.


Do not forget the strangers

in the crowd

the watchful ones

the furtive, awkward,


manic ones

in the advent of summer holidays, of

holy days

Do not forget

—as you laugh and embrace

and wish all well

and spill goodwill like crumpled wrapping paper

laugh at unfunny cracker jokes

and pull each other’s legs

as you thank the host

and season the feast with good cheer


that there are angels



answering phones, maybe

waiting to drive you home


offering refuge

Sometimes they come quietly

these entertaining angels

falling into your path

like stars

as the sun darkens





with a blast of trumpets,

drumbeats, cymbals, castanets,

plucking the strings

of your heart,

harp, harpsichord, mandolin, cello

strumming and humming and

harping on

when you least expect them


nagging and clapping and

clicking their fingers to

snap you



tooting and hooting

at your complacency


laughing your good intentions into action

looting your heart

for the strangeness lurking there


teasing and taunting

turning the stranger to friend


ruffling your feathers, tossing you to the winds

scooping you up, stroking you

with their wings

angel's wings by redbubble

Do not forget the heavenly host

coming in clouds of glory


brightening the air

spilling like stars, like champagne

skimming the sea

like yachts, like kites


skirting the crowds

searching the season

for strangers and welcomers


strumming and twanging and singing

frightening sheep, stunning the shepherds

spangling the sky


exhorting the earth to embrace

peace and goodwill

syntax of words and flesh



Spreading their wings

forming a Cross

pointing to west and east

as they light the path

to Bethlehem

—to Jerusalem, to Galilee


midwifing at the birth

foreshadowing resurrection

angel cloud - photo by David Mixner

Be not forgetful of angels.


Strange as they seem

entertain them:

let the cool spirits dance you.


Do not let them take you


© Bronwyn Angela White (1999)—Wellington, New Zealand

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

[1]  written for & performed at GalaXies Advent Service “Entertaining Angels Unaware”, St Andrew’s on the Terrace, Wellington, 5 December 1999; also read Christmas Eve 2004

angel drop by renee dawson