Angels Unaware

jenelle-ball-6163-unsplashI have two friends who often get signs from guardian angels or loved ones on the other side of the veil. Every now and then they will post a picture online of the signs that have materialized: angel symbols in unusual places like a tattoo on the shoulder of someone who photobombs a selfie, a feather, a cardinal or bluejay, or the repeat of certain numbers, like 1:11 on a clock.

I don’t really get these sorts of signs. The closest I come is frequently glancing at the clock at precisely 3:33 pm. Makes me wonder what is the significance of that time. Maybe it’s because three is my favorite number? But it got me to wondering why I don’t ever get signs from those who have passed, or why I don’t feel that I have a connection with my guardian angel. I wish I did. So very many people in my family and a few friends have passed, you would think I’d have a connection with someone, but no. Nothing. Radio silence.

It seems most people aren’t concerned with this sort of thing, whatsoever. But I often ponder what happens after we die. Where exactly are the souls of those who have passed? Part of me wants to know the science behind it, not just the mysticism. Can they hear us? Should we be having an ongoing dialogue with them? I mean, I catch myself periodically talking to my parents like they are right here with me, but then I stop because maybe I’m just crazy.

Speaking of crazy, I’ve been trying to have a dialogue with my guardian angel lately, just acknowledging that he or she is there. Saying, “hey,” and thank you for the guidance so far. Part of me feels silly because I haven’t had any overt experiences with angels and I don’t know why that would start now other than I’m actually trying to make a connection. I would probably get really freaked out if I encountered one at this point in life but I’m still curious. Can I get my angel’s name, at least? Maybe I’m too much of a baby Christian to have that kind of relationship. For example, I’ve spoken more about my faith on this blog than I ever do in real life. I practice my faith quietly…hoping that it shows in my actions versus my words…and maybe that’s not enough to be granted the gift of a sign.

I do think guardian angels are real, though. Now to be clear, I have had a couple of close calls and I think my angel intervened. These aren’t amazing stories or anything, but when I was 18, I hit a patch of black ice driving on a turn heading down Blaine Hill late one November night after work ended. My car made an instantaneous 90 degree turn to the left and I would have gone straight off the hillside landing who-knows-how-many-feet-below except something caused the car to turn yet another 90 degrees and come to a complete stop on the edge of the road, now headed uphill. A coworker happened to be right behind me and saw the whole thing transpire. He jumped out of his vehicle to check on me, and while he didn’t say it was a miraculous recovery on my part, both he and I knew I was almost a goner. I have no idea what stopped my car. It could have been sheer terror and adrenaline, and my foot jammed on the brake pedal. Sure it could. But it could’ve been something else.

How many of us go about our daily business unaware of the angels around us?

I experienced a different encounter on New Year’s Day when my husband and I visited a church we had hoped to make our new place of worship, given that we had moved into our current house the week before. It was a small but beautiful Orthodox church the next town over from where we lived.

10-15 minutes into the service, our little family of three made up half of the attendance, including the priest who had so far only spoken church Slavonic, a language I have heard since I was a kid but don’t understand, at all. I looked at my 2.5 year old kid, then to my husband and told him, “I can’t do this. I can’t go to a church that doesn’t speak English. The service must be in English if there is any hope our kid stays Orthodox when he’s older. Let’s go.”

Set aside for a minute how ridiculous it is to make language an important criteria for church, but that gives you an idea what you contend with when you’re Orthodox Christian in America. However, I digress…

We left. I still feel bad about bailing 15 minutes into the service, but I just couldn’t do it.  Outside the church on the sidewalk, our 2.5 year old repeatedly threw himself down on the ground, having a tantrum about leaving. Except this wasn’t your normal toddler tantrum. He wasn’t wailing and writhing…he was trying hard to make his point known. He wasn’t simply upset we were leaving; no, he was trying to say something very specific. He kept pointing to a spot a few feet away from him, saying, “Look!  Look!” and nothing more, except from my vantage, he was pointing at thin air, nothing that we could see.

It was one of those time-stands-still moments. Something told me he saw an angel. Don’t little kids have a connection we adults have shut off? What else could it have been? I promise you, we saw nothing there. I even got down on his level to see what I was missing. Still nothing as far as we could tell. I honestly felt like he saw an angel and he was trying desperately to tell us not to leave. Our son couldn’t put it into words. He simply did not want to go.

That was one of my last encounters and now it was years ago. My physical body simply hasn’t been very intuitive lately.

For whatever reason “signs from beyond” caught my attention this week and I read a completely random article online about the top ten signs that angels are near you. The number one sign is feathers. Makes sense to the common man, right? Angels have wings, and the good ones have white ones or so we think, so of course there would be feathers nearby.

FullSizeRenderThe very next day I got into my vehicle. It was a bright, sunny day and there I saw it, in the corner of my eye: the tiniest feather, stuck in the interior on the front passenger side. It’s so small, it would be easy to miss, but I didn’t. I never have feathers in my car. Mud? Yes. Petrified McDonald’s Happy Meal french fries from days gone by? Yes. Feathers? Never. Not once in the 33 years I’ve been driving.

How can I not smile about the little message my guardian angel left me?

PS – Then again maybe my guardian angel has been screaming to get my attention. We have a down comforter in our bedroom and it must have a hole or something because that thing spews feathers non-stop. It often looks like a couple of geese had a fight in our bedroom. Call me dense but I take that to be a sign that we need a new comforter, lol.

This “message from beyond” thing is hard. =)

Photo by Jenelle Ball on Unsplash

A Mother’s Prayer

First published on Facebook March 5, 2011. Edited slightly today for small changes I’ve made since then.

On Facebook several months ago, someone posed the question, “What do you wish for your children?” Excellent question.

My oldest son was already five or six by that point, and I wasn’t sure if I knew what I considered to be essential for my kids. I had an idea, but I had not boiled it down to the essence. That’s the great thing about having children. It forces you to get clear – crystal clear – about what you value and to live by those same values.

And I got to thinking that whatever I wish for my children is what I ought to be praying for my children. After all, a wish is a prayer. And a prayer is a thought that turns into words that turns into action and maybe reality. At least there is a better chance of it turning into reality than what is not articulated in prayer.

Now, I’ve been a Christian all my life but not a very good one. I’m not a gifted, Bible-verse-quoting one. I stumble around as far as Christians go. The discipline in my prayer is lacking severely so I’ve been working on it. But this question about what I wish for my children has tumbled around in my head enough that I’ve built a prayer around it. I worked on it and worked on it, until it felt real to me and had a natural, meditative cadence.

milada-vigerova-36934-unsplashI have no idea if my prayer is a good, worthy, humble one. But I have high hopes for my children, which means I lift up my prayer to God who listens and grants us what we need in His time according to His will. I don’t have a lot of patience, so this has been a tough lesson for me personally, but that’s just the way it is. His time, his way.

I would often recite this prayer in my car on the way to work, one run-through for each child, then for my husband, and then for a few other people as my heart so moved me. Every now and then I insert a special petition for whatever else my loved ones may be going through in life. For purposes of sharing, however, I’ll refer to them collectively. Here is my prayer.


It isn’t enough for me to simply share the prayer. I want to share how to came to find these words. Just as there is poetry and deep meaning behind each word of the Lord’s Prayer, each phrase of my prayer has an expanded meaning, at least to me. So here it goes:

God bless them: this is a simple appeal to God to grant His blessings upon my beautiful children in whatever form He wishes.

God bless them and keep them safe from harm: I scares me to think of the evil in the world, and safety of our children has become such a screamingly real issue these many years, so I ask for His blessings again and beseech Him to project my precious children, please.

May they grow strong:  strong in spirit, emotional fortitude, physical strength. Life on this earth requires stamina. I want them to always build upon this strength: body, mind and soul.

May they live long: let them experience the fullness of a long life and live to see their children’s children.

Happy, and healthy: and may that life be foremost a happy one, and then a healthy one.  Since it has taken me quite a while to recapture happiness and health is not something I have mastered, I wish for this first. No matter what else happens in life, what bigger blessings could I hope for my children?

Wealthy: maybe it’s a bit much to ask that they be blessed with wealth, but I’m going to ask anyway. I don’t mean I want the wealth of a millionaire for them; I just don’t want them to struggle with money issues…and if wealth means nothing more than an accumulation of grace here for the riches of God’s kingdom later, I’ll take it.

And wise: may they be fair and knowledgeable and gracious and balanced and live with perspective on the good and bad that inevitably come with life. Wise can mean so many things, and maybe it too is a bit much to ask but I don’t want any of our kids to be naive. I want them to know their way in this world, and maybe guide others.

May they always know love: love in its purest form, starting unconditionally and forever with us, their parents. But let love envelop them from all angles – siblings, grandmother, aunts, uncles, Godparents, cousins, teachers and friends. And then, when they leave home, may they still be surrounded by the love of good friends and be directed toward their soulmates. May they never let anyone stomp on their hearts; may they always seek out and be surrounded by the purest love. And then, when each has found the love of his or her life, may our children know the love of a child of their own, one or more as they choose. I want them to always know love in their lives. It doesn’t matter how many people are involved, only the quality and constant presence of that love. I have ached with prolonged loneliness for years on end; it is my wish that my children never know this feeling.

May they find joy and passion in life: I know life will come with inevitable sorrows, but we must actively cultivate the joy.  I want them to find it, keep it, sustain it. And passion – ah, that’s a loaded word. But I hope each child finds something that will interest them, jazz them so much that time stands still and it doesn’t feel like work. What a joy that will be! I truly believe they go hand in hand. This is another area where I personally have pecked along, unsure of what brought me joy with no one to guide me in that discovery, and then I was blocked from it when I found it. It is my job as a mother to help my children discover their inherent joy, talents and passions and help bring them to fruition.

May it uplift them and all those around them: joy and passion can take all kinds of forms but I don’t mean self-serving, self-destructive, incurred-at-the-expense-of-others joy and passion. I mean the kind of joy and passion that does nothing but uplift their spirit and that of everyone around them. Happy, positive, life-affirming, wholesome joy and passion. Filling-the-bucket joy and passion. That kind of joy and passion.

May their thoughts, words, and deeds be positive, confident, and kind: may what they think turn into what they say and turn into action. May they dwell on the positive instead of relentlessly focusing on the negative. May they find confidence deep within themselves and let it shine. And please, Lord, let them be kind to one another, to those they meet in this journey of life, and to themselves.

And may they give thanks for their blessings all the days of their life: we practice gratitude in our house, and I hope this is something they carry in their heart always and express and teach others to do the same.

For this I pray: Yes, for this I pray. This is what I pray, beseech of the Lord, want for all my children, and will actively work toward, doing whatever I can to make it a reality.

Amen:  It is so, so be it, let it be.  That is the definition of amen, after all.

The joy and love I have for all three of my children knows no end.

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash