Angels are real. They exist in the heavens, but sometimes they are made manifest right here on earth. The first time I realized this was right after my father’s death.
After my father died, we held a memorial service in the town in which he was living. As I wasn’t from there and it was held in the house of someone I didn’t know, I didn’t think much of it when an unfamiliar young woman walked in. She sat there for a while listening to the impromptu eulogies, the poetry, and the somber songs. As we were wrapping up this fitting tribute, she asked if she could speak.
“You don’t know me, and I don’t know you,” she began. “I hardly knew Shelly, and yet he saved my life.”
We were intrigued.
“Shelly used to frequent the café where I work as a barista” she continued. “It’s in a part of town caught up in the hustle and bustle of corporate life. The customers are frequently in a hurry and rarely stop to talk. Shelly was there one day when I was particularly down and out. I have suffered from depression most of my adult life, and that particular stretch was tough for me. My little brother had just died. I was a wreck. I was contemplating suicide. I felt so alone. “Shelly walked into my life. He was always so full of joy and so kind to me and the others in the café. He always asked how I was doing, and he meant it. On that day, seeing how sad I was, he pursued the question and wouldn’t take ‘fine’ for an answer.” “The café was empty,” she said, “so we sat and talked. It was perhaps the most wonderful conversation I have had in my life. My own father would hardly listen to me and certainly hadn’t helped me through that difficult time, and yet, here was a man who was practically a stranger to me, owed me nothing, and still sat, listened, empathized, and loved me for who I was and what I was going through. “I never told Shelly this, but that was a turning point for me. It was the moment I stopped contemplating suicide. He made me want to live. I believe he was an angel of God put in this world at that moment to save my life. I believe he was sent to me as a guardian angel.”
Throughout numerous mystical traditions, there are stories of strangers and beggars wandering into villages and into the lives of individuals. Although these beggars are dressed in disguise, they are always more than what they appear. They aren’t beggars, strangers, or mortals; they are the embodiment of divinity in our lives, a reminder that the divine is made manifest at the crossroads and the intersections of our journeys. When we recognize the darkness of loved ones, friends, acquaintances, or strangers, or they recognize ours, we enter that darkness to be with them. We offer them help, sympathetic ears, kind gestures, or smiles. Sparks are released. A little of their darkness—and often our own—is dispelled, and the divine presence returns to this world.
Who is to say that the people we meet on our life’s journey, at our café lunches, or across the aisles from us on planes aren’t at those intersections of our lives to bring messages and meanings for us? You never know who is here to help you along your path. And maybe, just maybe, you have been put here, at this specific time, at that specific place to lift another’s spirits, to change a person’s trajectory, to impact that person’s destiny. Maybe you are their angel and maybe, like Shelly, you will save their life.