Guides, and Guardians
What are angels? The word comes from the Greek meaning messenger.
Angels come, therefore, in any way that the message can be received,
in dreams and intuitions—the little tap on the shoulder that
says “go there, don’t go there.” And everyone
has had this experience: “I knew I should go down that road,
and I didn’t listen!”
come as accident and coincidence—the book that falls off the
shelf open to a page offering you. . . pure gold. They come as animals,
and sometimes they come as humans. A stranger will approach and
say just what you needed to hear that moment… or you will
act as an angel to someone, often without even knowing it.
Question is, will you recognize them when they come?
day I was talking about angels to a friend. He listened, skeptic
that he was, and said he’d never met one. “But once,”
he said “when I was a little boy I was alone in the house
playing with my woodcarving set when the knife slipped and cut my
finger to the bone.” Blood came spurting out. Just then the
doorbell rang. He wrapped a towel around his finger and opened the
door. There was a woman in a white uniform with a black bag. She
came in, bandaged up his hand and went away. “I never thought
about until this minute,” he said. “Was that an angel?”
sometimes—rarely—angels come clothed in their own radiance
and magnificence. When you
see an angel, you are transported. They may be male
or female, baby cherub or gigantic seraphim. They appear with wings
or without (certainly they don’t need to flap their shoulders
to move from place to place) They are spirits, formed of rippling
is the description of Pére Lamy, a French priest.
garments are white, but with an unearthly whiteness. I cannot
describe it because it cannot be compared to earthly whiteness:
it is much softer to the eye. These bright angels are enveloped
in a light so different from ours that by comparison everything
else seems dark. When you see a band of fifty you are lost in
amazement. They seem clothed with golden plates, constantly
moving, like so many suns.
Bible has close to 360 references to angels. But it’s not
the ones that came 3000 years ago that we want to know about—but
the ones who come to us, today….
are three marks of an angel, and everyone who sees one agrees on
they come as Light. Warmth. Home. Safety. Mother. You are washed
with peace and joy.
they always say the same thing. Don’t
be afraid, they say. Fear not.
They never say: “Look at the mess you’ve made now!”
you may not quite believe what happened, but neither can you
have one other quality—these handmaidens of God: and that
is light-heartedness. Lighten up, they say. Don’t
take things so seriously.
I was walking along the canal in Washington. I was in a funk,
because even though I’ve seen into other worlds, I still
forget. I’ve seen angels. Once an angel saved my life. But
I’m human, I get scared. I was walking along that day, feeling
desperate. “Show me you’re here,” I prayed.
“I need a sign. And I’m not in the mood for one of
your subtle signs that I can’t read. You’re going
to have to hit me over the head with it.”
then a flock of pigeons rose out of the canal. And that in itself
was magical: pigeons don’t roost in the canal. Seagulls
maybe. They were breathtaking. The light flashed off their white
wings. My heart lifted. They circled in the air, and then one
let go—splat!—right on top of my head.
could I do but laugh?
are many questions: Why do they come some times and not others?
To children more than adults? To women more than men?
draws angels to us? This question I can answer. I think it is
our innocence. It is our open-hearted love and receptivity. What
drives them away? It is anger, violence, vengeance, a hardening
of the heart. Because the path to God comes through the heart.
That’s the teaching of the Inner Journey: do I love more
deeply? Am I awake?…
are composed of love. The very cells of our body are burning—our
skin flaring—with the fire of love. For within each one
of us is the spark of the Divine.
I flowed out of the creator,” wrote Meister Eckhart, “all
creatures stood up and shouted, ‘Behold. Here is God!’
And they were correct.”
Consider also an Hassidic Jewish teaching: “Before every
human being comes a retinue of angels, announcing, ‘Make
way for an image of the Holy One, Blessed be He.’”
from a talk delivered at the Lenten Noonday Preaching Series at
Calvary Episcopal Church, Memphis TN.
©2006 Sophy Burnham
Burnham has distinguished herself as a novelist, journalist,
nonfiction writer, playwright, and spiritual teacher. Her works
include three bestsellers: A Book Of Angels, Angel
Letters, and The Art Crown. Her latest nonfiction
book, The Path of Prayer, has been named one of the fifty
best books of the year by Spirituality & Health magazine.
She has appeared on many radio and television programs including
Oprah, Larry King Live, CBS Morning News,
Good Morning America, and The Today Show.