When I was doing a web search for 'angels in art' this photograph appeared on a website purporting to share the most iconic images. I absolutely love it, even though it's anything but a classic angel portrayal. Indeed, I have been unable to find out anything about the statue, other than the fact that it is overlooking the bombed out city of Dresden.
The left hand, which apprears damaged, reaches out towards the ruins, guiding the viewer's eye to the devastation below. It seems as if the angel (let's accept that it is, despite the absence of wings) stands sentinel over this broken place, and yearns to show the horror to anyone who will allow themself to look.
The face is striking too - undamaged, hair perfectly coiffured, lips slightly parted, eyes focussed on the city below... as if to say, this is my city, that I love.
Maybe the hand reaches out not merely to draw the eye city-wards but as a gesture of hope, the upturned palm suggesting that the city will rise from its ashes, will live again.
I am reminded of two things:
In the gospels, Jesus stood on a hill outside Jerusalem and, wept because he loved it so much.
It also reminds me of the poem 'The Prophet's Speech' by Rev Dr Doug Gay
Lamenting over what is lost, dreaming of will be... this is the task of the prophet, and the message of the angels.
God who watches over this weary world,
Where, as the carol expresses so perfectly
"beneath the angel strains have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong"
We know you must weep over the wanton destruction
Inhumanity, greed, despair
Yet, in unending love you reach out your hand -
Scarred by the nails of crucifixion -
To lead us onwards in hope.