Tag Archive | "Divine intervention"

Do Angels Exist?

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Born into the Roman Catholic faith, I was taught by the nuns that angels exist.  In the thick of The Cold War, when my classmates and I were drilled to drive beneath our desks in case of an air raid (as if that would help), the Catholic Church may have believed it was assuaging the fears of its youngest practitioners by encouraging our belief in angels.


A guardian angel was said to be assigned, by God, to every single child from the moment of his or her birth until the moment of his or her death.  The angels, of a specific race more powerful than humans, were said to cast ever-watchful eyes upon their charges in order to keep them from harm.  As a child, I accepted this concept and talked regularly to my guardian angel, who never spoke back (some kids have imaginary friends; I had a tall, robed, beneficent winged being).  I was even sure that my angel had pulled my little butt out of harm’s way a few times.


But as an adult, I questioned the reality of angels.  In truth, I had learned to question everything that the masses followed like lemmings to the sea, from organized religion to musical artists.  In the early to mid 1990’s, angels suddenly became not only mainstream, but also downright fashionable.  Like a pair of shoes from the trendiest of designers, everyone simply had to have one!  Talk shows, magazines, books, seminars, and retail shops were flooded with all manner of angel stories and angel merchandise.  Suddenly, everyone seemed to be having meaningful encounters with angels; everyone but me, that is.  I rolled my eyes and thought, “Yeah, right.”   I hadn’t spoken with my own angel in decades, and for all I knew, he’d caught, in the words of Don McLean, “the last train for the Coast.”


I suppose my angel had a sense of humor, albeit one bordering on ultraviolet, appropriately matching my own, for he humored my doubt.  He’d not only intervened in a few instances in which I came to think of him as my “glass angel,” he also shook a few memories out of me that made me realize he had to have been around me all along, even when I’d dismissed him as nothing more than a trendy figure.

 

When I was 12 years old, I fell through the glass door at the front of my house.  I’d tripped on a long, antique, runner-type carpet that my grandfather loved and that my father was always threatening to rip up “before someone trips and gets seriously hurt.”  Well, I tripped, all right.  I went through the door, whose glass completely shattered — and emerged with my eyesight and limbs fully intact.  Only the tiniest of scratches on my hands, too tiny to require treating, bore the evidence of how my angel had snatched me out of the line of fire.


A few years later, as I was getting ready for my best friend’s Sweet Sixteen party, a light bulb exploded in my face.  It was an accident, a loud and scary one.  I thought I’d swept up all the pieces of glass, but I was wrong.  I’d missed one, very critical shard.


Never will I forget the cream eye shadow I’d applied, after sweeping up, for my friend’s party.  It was made by Avon® and came in two little tubes.  My finger slid the soft amethyst color over my eyelid and then began to swipe the pale shimmering pink color just beneath my brow bone.  Here’s why I remember those cosmetics in such detail, right down to the exact hues.  Had the eye shadow been powder and not cream, it would not have adhered to and lifted the tiny shard of broken glass from under my brow; it may have fallen directly into my eye, blinding me or at least, injuring me badly.


Many years later, after I was married, I was shopping in my neighborhood on a lovely Spring day and had just — and by “just,” I mean, by seconds — passed a little store with a crystal clear glass display window.  No one had been near that window other than me, and all I’d done was walk by it.  For no apparent reason, the glass exploded — outward.  The proprietor, his assistant, and their two customers ran toward the front of the store, shocked and dismayed, questioning aloud how such a thing could have happened.  With the heart pounding in my chest and totally unscathed, I slid my eyes to the right and left, hoping for a glimpse of my angel, a flutter of wings or a small breeze as he flew over my shoulder.  There was no flurry and there was no breeze, but I knew that he’d somehow held that glass together until the very moment that I’d safely passed.


In another incident, I’d been about to jaywalk at a busy intersection: an everyday pastime for us native New Yorkers who play chicken, on foot, with the cabbies and other vehicular traffic.   With no cars close to the traffic light, I was about to cross against the light when a voice in my head insisted, “Get back on the sidewalk, NOW!”


I’d assumed it was my guilty conscience speaking, as my mother had always warned me not to stand in the street to wait for the light to change.  I stepped back onto the curb and took two steps backward.  The very minute that I did, two cars barreled down upon each other from out of nowhere and collided violently right under my nose.  Metal twisted, screams ensued, and glass flew everywhere.  Stunned into silence, I saw that I was standing safe, somehow, inside a circle of shattered glass.


The most dramatic demonstration my glass angel has performed to date occurred on the morning when my youngest kitty, Kallie, shoved a glass-framed print right off my wall.  She liked to do this to all of the pictures in the house; she was amused by the swinging objects, and no amount of chiding broke her of this habit.  On the morning in question, I heard a terrible crash followed by a frightened meow.  Adrenalin sent me flying through the house where I saw, with horror, the aftermath of Kallie’s prank.


On the wall where the picture had hung was the nail that had held it and three pieces of the black metal frame, hanging like a gaping mouth.   Where had the glass landed and would I get to it in time before my curious kitty, and her equally curious sister, could carve up their tender little paws on it?!?


The blood slowed in my veins as I beheld the glass, perfectly intact and carefully placed, as if by human hands, against the wall in my foyer.  The glass had fallen down a full level of my house and had come to land with its base against the hard tiled floor, angled just so against the wall.  The picture was placed right in line next to it, just as carefully — again, as if by human hands.  A million to one, I breathed to myself, calculating the odds of this being nothing more than a coincidence.  Convinced that there had to have been glass chips on the floor, from the panel’s edges, and that I would not see them as they were transparent, I ran my hand slowly and cautiously along all four edges of the glass.  All four edges were completely intact.  The only other human in the house had been my husband, who’d been sleeping while this had happened.


Relaying the story to him afterward, he nodded to the spot where Kallie had shoved the picture off the wall.  Her sister, Gremlin, was standing atop the piece of furniture beneath where the picture had hung.  “She’s looking at where it used to hang,” my husband pointed out.  “Uh-uh,” I argued.  “Take a good look at her line of vision.  The nail is still there and she’s not looking at it.  She’s looking at a spot well above the nail.  Places hold energy,” I added pregnantly.  “Something came into this house not of this world, something that protected our kitties.”


“Cut it out,” he said, “you’re making me nervous!”


Does the thought of something benign and otherworldly, sitting on your shoulder, make you nervous.  Or do you embrace and give thanks for your angel?


Related Post:  The Messengers 

Pray for Us Sinners

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Kneeling in church before an altar, placing a yarmulke on our heads in humility to the Lord, or making a small offering in a temple, most of us — with the exception of confirmed atheists — respect the power of prayer.  Supplicating to our Gods, we pray to attain or sustain the things most central to our lives: our jobs, our health, our safety, and that of our loved ones.  With so much on the line, we pray in a mindful and structured manner that lends weight to our requests.


But what of those small, almost guilty prayers that seep our consciousness and float out psychically to The Creator?  Do they carry as much weight?


I was taught not to pray for frivolous or selfish things (i.e., a winning lottery ticket) when I was a child in Catholic school.   The inference was that God would be angered, and an angry God does not answer prayers.  Therefore, as an adult, I had to wonder why one devout man of my acquaintance always — and I do mean always — managed to snag a parking spot on the crowded streets of New York City, each and every time he prayed for one.  Does God grant small, selfish prayers because He/She is beneficent, or does He/She grant them to silence our petty, pesky requests?  Or … does God do it because we amuse Him/Her?


I don’t know the answer, but I tried this same trick myself one desperate Christmas Eve in the city, with a car full of relatives and dinner reservations burning away.  As the family wheedled me to put the car into a lot and pay the fee (an impossibility, as all the lots in the area were full), I snapped loudly, “Jesus, can you hear me?  Show these non-believers that you still work miracles by giving me a parking spot on the street right now!”  Lo and behold — and not to make a pun, but as God is my witness — the moment those words had cleared my lips, a car just ahead eased out of its spot and I eased right in!


Explain, then, when I prayed one night to wake up twenty pounds thinner, the p.j.’s did not fall off my newly emaciated frame in the morning.


Or why, when I had a hankering for a piece of jewelry well out of my means, I woke up one Saturday with a prayer in my heart, determined to buy it.  Like the desperate guy in the old Springsteen song “going down to where the sands turn into gold,” I headed straight for Atlantic City, and I am no gambler.  At roulette, in just a few hours, I’d won enough to not only buy the necklace but a matching pair of earrings!


Explain, then, when I prayed for some scaffolding or at the very least, a large brick, to fall upon the head of someone I know who lives to torture others, nothing toppled from the sky in a city known for its cascading scaffolds, bricks, and oh yes, pigeon “blessings from above.”


The loss of those twenty pounds would have made me a happier person.  I would have spread my joy to others, and this would have been a blessing; hardly selfish.  Right?  The loss of the beast disguised as a human would have been an undisputed blessing, spreading joy to three generations of an entire clan.


Did I not pray hard enough?   To paraphrase Mick Jagger, “Was I rough enough?  Was I tough enough?”  Does God take vacations at the Jersey shore along with the rest of us, or are my heartfelt pleas just snooze fests to Him/Her?   Or … does God answer prayers the way that lottery tickets are drawn: at random? 


It can’t be random; it just can’t, and I can cite chapter and verse as to why it can’t.  One chapter involves one of my two beloved kitties.  Every night, I’d pray that God watch over them: God, St. Francis of Assisi, and every relative who has passed on.  Very early one morning, with a loud crash, my playful youngest kitty knocked a large framed print off the wall of the second level of my home.  Frantically, I searched for the glass and found it in a most illogical spot … placed in an eerily deliberate manner, as if by human hands, against the wall of my tiled foyer.  Assuming that miniscule chips had scattered on the floor to harm my little cat, I ran my hands carefully over the four edges of the glass.  I had to repeat that act twice more, for the glass was completely and inexplicably intact.


A mathematician could calculate the odds of the glass sailing down one full flight to land unbroken against a wall and a very hard floor.  And as astronomical as the odds must be, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that this little miracle had nothing to do with math and everything to do with Divine or perhaps angelic intervention.  


So the granting of prayers can’t be random.


I’d still love to lose those twenty pounds.  I’d hold a party if that brick ever conks that monster on the head and sends him to his Maker.  These are just two of a plethora of small prayers I’d like to see answered.  There must be a formula here that escapes me.  I pray that I learn it in my next life!

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