This is extravagantly imagined and beautifully realized spiritual adventure story. Stephen Mitchell has fashioned an immensely erudite and rich portrait of earthly and heavenly truth, beauty, passion, play, and enlightenment. When the archangel Gabriel appears to the narrator, author of a 1992 bestseller titled Against Angels, he is bedazzled. The otherworldly visitor teaches him about energy, the nature of time, angelic sex, and then takes him on an amazing field trip to heaven. There William Blake tells the narrator: "The world of imagination is the world of eternity."
Although the narrator knows quite a lot about Thomas Aquinas, Spinoza, and Rainer Maria Rilke, his spiritual training as a student of Zen is what enables him to have such a hospitable mind. He describes seeing a vision of evil while smoking broccoli with a Berditchever Hasidim in Brooklyn. He talks about his study of Job and the Upanishads, his training with a Korean teacher culminating with a 100-day solitary retreat, and his relationship with David Copland, a Jewish Zen master who enables him to open his heart.
Meetings with the Archangel mirrors the spiritual renaissance of our time with its cornucopia of resources available to the true seeker. Stephen Mitchell puts on display the riches of Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism. And best of all, he celebrates the spiritual practices of attention, beauty, compassion, imagination, play, yearning, and zeal. This work of fiction is nothing short of awesome.