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Sunday, August 7, 2011

The gift of an angel

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. ~George Elliot

When we think of angels, we think of heavenly beings with human features dressed in snow-white robes, and with huge white wings on their backs. It may be due to this image we have seen in books, movies, and through stories, that we are often overlooking the angels we meet every day. Yet, there are angels all around us. They work in stores and offices, walk on the street, sit beside us in the train, or keep us company in our own home. They look like old people, young people, but also like dogs, cats, or other living beings that we don't exactly represent the stereotypical angel image.

I once read the story of a young man who was concerned about his elderly father. Having recently suffered a stroke, the old man recovered well, but seemed to have lost his zest for life. He had become an old, bitter person, who seemed unwilling to cooperate with anything. Desperately, the younger man called all kinds of institutions to ask for suggestions on any possible way to help his father cope with life more positively. Finally, someone suggested getting his father a dog, because the responsibility over another creature often did wonders. The younger man drove to the dog pound and saw, among all kinds of dogs, this large, skinny dog that had a strange quite look on his old face. When inquiring about the dog, the young man learned that his time was almost over and he would be put to sleep if by tomorrow no one had adopted him. That did it. He took the dog home to his father, who was rather upset at first. Who said he wanted a dog? But then something connected between the old man and the dog, and a wonderful relationship developed. The old man gradually regained his old vigor and made long daily walks with his old friend. When, three years later, the old father passed away peacefully, it didn’t take more than a day or two before the old dog peacefully passed on as well. A deep friendship had made the last three years for both, man and dog, worthwhile*.

It was obvious to this young man that the old dog had been his father's angel. How many of us think of their pets as angels? Still, when we are sad, it's these home buddies who console us with their quiet presence. Angels are not necessarily in our lives to do major things. They may come for a moment and move on, or they may be there regularly, but never show their angel qualities until you need them. Think of the person who yields in traffic when you don’t expect it, the co-worker who offers to fill in for you when you really have to be somewhere else, the hand that pulls you back when you were about to cross the street without paying attention, the person who puts in a good word for you without you even knowing that, or the stranger who tells you that you look fabulous today just when you were down and really needed to hear something good. And we have not even considered the thousands of unknown angels that worked on sowing, reaping, processing, packing, transporting and preparing all the things you eat, wear, drive, live and sleep in.


There are angels all around us every day, and if we really recognized that, we'd rarely feel depressed, because we would realize all the time how fortunate we really are!

*Adopted from More, 2011, http://www.rogerknapp.com/inspire/oldmandog.htm)

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