Years ago, Alabama recorded a simple song that captured a part of the mysterious synchronicity that alters the paths of ordinary human beings. The refrain celebrates the “angels” who walk here among us, who somhow apper at just the right moment and make a difference that seemed incomprehensible even moments before.
“I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us from somehwere up above. They come ot you and me in our darkest hours to show us how to live, teach us how to give and guide us with the light of love….”
Autumn brings the Catholic celebration of those angels, of the idea that there are angels who enable us to live beyond the jagged edges of loss and pain, trauma and circumstance. But there, in the lyrics of a country song, rests the truth that the light of love bears a flame that illumninates those most challenging times. That light flickers in each of us, for each of us. Even the faintest illumination makes an enormous difference. It is the accidental meeting in a parking lot where one friend sobs on the shoulder of angel who holds the grief and the person with gentleness and hope. It is the motorist who angels the elderly accident victim. It is the child entrusted to the arms of a parent and the tender tones of a doctor explaining an unwelcome diagnosis. It is the lost toddler who claims a friendly bear protected him overnight in the woods.
Those are moments of divine spark, moments that are reminders that the journey we have been given is a sacred one, and none of us are truly alone on the path. Catholic tradition reverberates with the strength of Michael the Archangel and Gabriel’s tenderness, Raphael’s wisdom. There is grandeur and dignity in it, and there is a humility and purpose for the lesser ones, the guardians of each one of us. Today, their essence of their mission may best be captured by characters like JK Rowling’s elves, like Dobby in Harry Potter, willing to be there, to help, to intervene somehow and make things better. There is no fear and no hesitation in commitment and kindness. There is loyalty and generosity, strength and purpose. Humanity and divinity are intermingled in the moments, opening the possibility of something more than the draining stress of ordinary days.
Here, lingering with the pandemic in a world roaring with technological and social changes, stress, anxieties and conflict engulf even the most confident among us. But there are the angels dancing among and between us, stretching a spectre of the divine over what seems most painfully human. And so we grow and become angels for one another, building experiences of the best of what is human and the touch of what is divine into the daily cycle of twenty hours. Increments of time are enriched by the light of that love, the lessons of how to live and how to give. The real gift is to know the touch of angels, to grasp the outreached hand, to rest and trust the guidance and the safety that love and light affords. Yes to the angels among us and yes to choosing the moment to be the angel!