I believe in angels. I always have. Not the kind we see in classic paintings; androgynous looking figures in flowing gowns with golden hair and huge white wings. No, I believe in the angels that we encounter every day, almost everywhere, but simply fail to recognize.
Experience has taught me there are human beings walking this earth who show up whenever we need them. They’re the strangers you meet spontaneously in the grocery store, the gas station, the drugstore and dry cleaner. They notice you; they ask if you need something; they help you in little ways you hardly notice.
The best part is that angels come to everyone. You do not need to pray for one. You do not have to be a part of any specific religion. You don’t even have to identify them as angels when they appear. In fact, we usually don’t see them as such until they’re gone.
If you think about it, you’ll realize that people have a way of appearing in our lives when we need them most. You’re feeling incredibly sad and suddenly, for no reason, someone in your tribe tells a dumb joke – so dumb that you can’t help laughing out loud and instantly feel a bit better. You find yourself overwhelmed by life and fear you’re about to go over the edge – until an old friend calls out of the blue “just to check in” or you run into a neighbor who tells you how wonderful your children are.
So, if you think about it a little more, you’ll also realize we’re all angels. That time you helped an elderly woman cross the street with her grocery bags. That night you stopped to ask someone on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck if they needed anything. That day you smiled and nodded to the woman with the crying child across the aisle on an airplane.
One night a dear friend was driving home to the Bay Area from Southern California with four children; two of her own and two of their friends. She had gotten a late start so the traffic on I-5 was awful. Trying to find an alternative, she decided to take a turnoff she thought would be an easier drive. But after about 20 miles, she realized she was lost (and a little frightened). To make matters worse, everyone was tired, cranky and hungry, so when she spotted a diner she decided a food stop might be a good idea.
They settled into a booth to order hamburgers and milkshakes all around. In the middle of the meal, an older couple came by their table to tell her they had been talking about how well-behaved her children were. My friend thanked them, explained that not all four were actually hers, and then told them how concerned she was about being lost.
The woman touched her arm, gave her a knowing smile and said “Why, you’re not lost at all. There’s a turnoff in about a mile that brings you right back to I-5 North. You’re only about two-and-a-half hours from San Francisco. And now that everyone is fed and relaxed, you’ll be just fine.” At that point, my friend knew she had literally been touched by an angel.
There’s a balance to the universe that does not necessarily depend on the law of cause-and-effect. How many times have you marveled at “coincidence” and wondered what would have happened if you’d been one minute earlier or one mile farther?
The truth is that angel encounters can only occur if we choose to cause or invite them. For me, it’s a matter of making that little extra effort to help someone else and keeping my eyes open for those who might be trying to guide me.
What about you? Have you ever felt like someone arrived just in time to help you? Have you been an angel for someone you didn’t know? We’d love to hear your story and hope you’ll share it in the Comments section.
Editor’s Note: In celebration of our first anniversary, 360Women is republishing a few of our favorite and/or most popular blogs from the past year; posts that you may have missed the first time around. This one was first published on November 2, 2015.