I grew up not really caring whether I had an angel or not. Being blessed with a streak of mischief, it was better to not have an angelic shadow nearby. My first knowledge of angels came from an aunt bent on giving me the spiritual education that she felt my mother incapable of. So, from this well-meaning aunt, I learned that a girl gets an angel with pink wings and a boy gets an angel with blue wings.
Four years of age, I thought it all very pretty but my relationship with angels still didn’t take off. Blue wings and pink wings weren’t enough for me.
In my late teens, I had two experiences where I distinctly heard the voice of someone unseen. One time, I was awakened by a firm tap on my shoulder and a “Wake up!” when I had fallen asleep studying for college exams. The other time was when a roommate’s boyfriend decided to announce his arrival to visit his girlfriend, from three floors below, by throwing stones at the wooden window frames. It began with small ones aimed at the window where I sat studying. Absorbed in something, I ignored them. In a fit of temper, he followed through with a great big stone, but a split second before, I clearly heard a voice sharply command, Move!! The urgency of it lifted me out of my seat and flying right to the door across the room. How I did that I don’t know. And the next second that miserable rock flew through the open window where my head just was. Had I still been at the window, I might not be here now.
For a long, long time after, I pondered those experiences. I assumed it was angel each time, but it didn’t sink deep enough into my cluttered heart to make me seek them out.
In the ensuing years, I would go on to have a few more experiences. Each time, I learned anew that someone was looking out for me. But I never lingered on that comfort of insight because my life then, living with abusers, was totally about others; I didn’t even feel that I needed someone to watch over me. I was trained to not expect someone to look out for me, to care for me. It was ingrained into me that I didn’t deserve this care. Angels were just something on the walls I passed by each day.
Then, one day, angels came back into my life, and revealed themselves slightly. In the weave of sun-tipped months that followed, I learned a joy I never knew, a purity of giving foreign to me. Angels taught me to love and to love freely. They softened my heart to receive and enjoy pure love too.
All too soon, one night, they came to my door in a stream of light that could not be turned off. They gently passed a hand over a lively wick, and I learned a grief I never knew before. But even as they put out an earthly light, they lit a new heavenly lamp for me and left it in my heart to light the bitter dark.
The angels never left me. Every time I fell, overcome by the cross of mourning, unseen hands lifted me to my feet, whispering, You must go on. There is work to be done. On the days when the grief got too much and I needed to stuff a cloth against my mouth to muffle the anguished screams, I felt a soft hand pressed against my heart to slow the tide of sorrow.
Slowly, ever so slowly, through the haze of weeps, I began to learn about angels. The colour of their wings, or even if they had them – mattered not. There was so much more to them than I ever realized. And more than I will ever know.
I believe the words written by the late Fr Gabriele Amorth – The glory of the angels, too, will be increased according to their good deeds; therefore, it is very useful to invoke their help. I know this for the truth it is. Every time I leaned against the angels and chose to love despite the wrenching sorrow, that new angel~lamp lit the night grief came to stay, burned brighter.
We need angels, whether we care to admit it or not. Some weeks ago, a nun told me to send out angels when I pray, for there is no heart not touched by storms. Every heart needs an angel. Thinking of the way angels have kept guard over me, someone must have prayed me angels too.
And that prayer is now mine for others.