I must say, I’ve never seen an ethereal creature with visible wings. And while I’ve heard some wonderful singing voices, I have never heard a concert by a heavenly host. But I have met a few angels.
The first time I knew I met an angel was when I lay paralyzed in my hospital bed after my first stroke. There was a gentle knock on my door one evening and a gal walked in, wondering if I would take a visitor. I invited her in and we talked. I noticed she used a cane and had spasticity in one arm.
She explained that she had a stroke about ten years earlier and was part of a visitation program at the hospital. We talked a bit and I asked a lot of questions about her life. She told me that she had left what I regarded as a “good” job after her stroke. “Good” as in prestigious and high-paying. Instead she now worked at a low-paying job for which she had a lot of passion. Initially I thought that was odd.
She returned a few days later. This time she came in a wheelchair. She explained that she had good days and bad days in terms of being ambulatory. We had a brief conversation and she left. But I was inspired.
I had a chance to think a bit about her decision to leave her “good” job in favor of one she was passionate about. It was starting to seem like a less odd choice to me. And i didn’t think of it as troubling that she came to my room the second time in a wheelchair rather than walking with a cane. She was still inspiring.
The thing that struck me was that this woman had a life. She didn’t live in the hospital. I was told I’d be hospitalized for weeks or months and my discharge date couldn’t even be guessed at. I couldn’t envision how I would ever leave the hospital. I was paralyzed and had significant cognitive impairment. But for the first time, I had hope. I would have a life of some sort, outside the hospital walls. I had been visited by an angel and she probably didn’t even know she had wings.
I had started to get some sensation back in my right leg, although my right arm was still a dead limb. I kept pestering the therapists and docs about whether I might walk again. They couldn’t tell me that. Walking was not impossible but unlikely and I was being taught coping skills without the use of my right leg or arm. But then a second angel encounter occurred.
After about a month at the white gown hotel, I was told I was being discharged. I had agitated for an early release and I think it worked to my benefit, even if it was a bit soon. I hadn’t seen my kids in a long time because they were very young and had all managed to get strep throat. Plus my family lived over an hour away. I was getting pretty desperate to be home.
As I was being wheeled out for my final elevator ride before discharge, a young therapist came running up to me and have me a hug. I’d only seen her once or twice. She said “I can’t tell you this medically. But Dan, I’ve been praying for you. I think you might walk someday”. Once again, she had wings, whether she knew it or not.
I think that angels are out there, more than we know. These two women were the first angels I was aware of meeting. But angels have always existed for me. And for everyone. We just don’t see them or notice their wings when times are good, just as we tend to be less conscious of others generally when things are going smoothly. We humans have a tendency to think we have everything under control, after all. Even if we sense our fears and insecurities, we prefer to stay guarded and closed to need and to the kind and gentle help of others. Until we have no choice.
You see, the job of angels really is to give hope, especially when it’s desperately needed. And I think a great many of us, perhaps all of us, have a set of invisible wings hanging in our closets. It’s worth taking them out for flight on occasion. The hope they inspire may never be known by the angel. But like the angels, the hope they inspire is very real.
Copyright April 8, 2020 by Daniel W. Blake