“The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.” George Elliot
How do you picture an angel? I remember as a child being a little ambivalent about a host of bland, sexless creatures flying around, watching my every move. Add to that all of my dead relatives who apparently were very interested in keeping an eye on me too. It is funny how a child can take something that is intended to comfort them, and turn it into a scary movie.
A few weeks ago I had messages about angels appear to me from three separate and unrelated sources. One came via facebook, another via an email, and the third was face to face. Three stories about angels in three days. It made me stop and think. One version featured the traditional vision of a guardian angel, even though the story teller had the gravelly voice of dancehall artist Buju Banton, who probably needs his guardian angel more than ever. His lyrics tell us that he had a ‘…close one yesterday, Jah put an angel over me…’ This is the comforting vision of a spirit that is dedicated to protecting us even when we take foolish risks with our lives.
But the other two angel stories come from a different perspective. They each told the story of humans intervening in the lives of others, and thereby acting as angels. One told of a man meeting up with a woman at a gas station, he lends her money for gas, and thereby becomes her angel. The other story was told to us in church. While traveling by plane, the minister’s seat had been changed, and she ended up sitting between a man and his teenage son. The son was battling cancer, and the father was at first upset to find someone assigned to the seat, wishing for his son to have space to lie down if necessary. During the journey they spoke, and the minister became the angel the father had prayed for, as she prayed with him and offered comfort.
Sometimes we hope to see angels. Sometimes we may be the angel someone else is hoping to see. But the problem with acting as an angel is that we often want to know we made a difference in someone’s life. Our ego needs the gratification to be able to say, look what I did! Because I had that talk with that person, they changed their path completely! Because I selflessly lent someone money, they were able to lift themselves out of a hopeless situation.
But life isn’t always that neatly packaged. Your random acts of kindness may have a chain effect that is unseen. And true charity shouldn’t be trumpeted abroad. There are many philanthropists out there that we never hear about. When we look for praise and acknowledgement for our actions, it ceases to be about others, and instead becomes about us. Then we are a little less than angelic. Part of our commitment to a fair and just world should include giving a helping hand when we can.
This Friday morning, my wish for you is that you see angels when you need to, and that you may be angelic when you can. And now that I am older I have to confess that I am not as freaked out at the thought of assorted friends and relatives who may from time to time watch over me. In fact there are times when I can feel my father’s presence hovering over me like a second skin. Especially when I take a trip up to the cool hills of Clarendon, and stare off at the scenery that he loved so much. In carrying on his Friday morning tradition I have found a way to keep his spirit very much alive, to give him a voice.
Have a great Friday, and a wonderful weekend, family! Do your random acts of kindness without looking for anything in return, and keep your eyes open for the angels that may be around us. Special thanks to Paulette for her birthday wish to start a chain event of paying forward acts of kindness! I know there are people out there thanking their angel.