“Wondering how many angels you have?
All of them.
~ Mike Dooley, Notes from the Universe
I believe in angels. Whether in the form of a feeling, a thought, an impulse, a kind word from a friend or a helpful person appearing just when I need it, I believe there are angels among us. I’ve been touched by angels and benefited from them in my life. When my house was destroyed by a flood an army of angels showed up every day to help me clear it out, clean it up and eventually rebuild. I also believe there are times when I have been called to become an angel for someone else.
That was the case recently when my friend Gavin and I were on a day trip to Lucas. We were heading back when as we drove down the highway I glanced to my left and saw an older man trying to shovel his old, beat up gray Buick out of six inches of snow covering a couple inches of ice. That quick glance was all it took for me to see that he was in trouble. His footing was wobbly and with frigid temperatures, combined with his obvious exhaustion from working for who knows how long to free his car he was in big trouble. I mentioned to Gavin that the guy we had just passed in his driveway looked like he needed help, and Gavin’s response was an immediate, “Then let’s help.”
I didn’t even bother turning around, but threw the car into reverse and backed down the highway to pull into the top of his driveway. As we got out we asked the gentleman, Morey, if he could use a hand. His response, as he leaned over the hood of his car, was also an immediate, but weak, “Yes. Yes I sure could.” As Gavin shoveled the snow that rose above the car frame and buried half the wheels, I helped steady its owner who was gasping for every breath. I put my arm through his for stability – for us both, and could feel his heart pounding a wild and scary rhythm in his chest. He was indeed in trouble, but we were determined to help. I talked to him calmly, asking him to breathe consciously and slowly with me and told him we would get him out of this mess – somehow. At the time, I thought I might be lying to him, because I didn’t see any way we would be able to free his car, but sometimes you do what you have to do to convince someone else as well as yourself.
Gavin and I took turns shoveling and eventually we were able to clear enough of the icy mess to push and rock his car forward so that it gained some traction and was free. Morey got out of his car once it was safely beyond the ruts, ice and snow and started thanking us profusely. He kept calling us his angels and maybe we were, but we didn’t help Morey to earn our wings. We just knew he needed help and we were able to give him some.
Someone else had their hands on the wheel at that moment. Something made me look in Morey’s direction and it was immediately apparent that he was in trouble. We didn’t discuss whether to go back and help or not. We didn’t even think about it, we just did it. But after we did and both Morey and we were on our separate ways I realized that helping Morey had done a whole lot for me. It felt so good to help him. I felt more positive, more optimistic. My heart felt open and much of my usual defensiveness and guardedness had fallen away. Ever since I’ve felt a deeper connection with everyone whose path has crossed mine and I’ve been much lighter in spirit and mood.
As I’ve pondered this experience of helping Morey and what I gained from it, I feel less like his angel and more like maybe Morey was my angel. Maybe it’s not the ones who have – the time, the money, the strength, the means, whatever – who are the angels to those who have not, but rather those who have less are the angels who open the rest of us to our shared humanity and whatever is the best in us.
Maybe instead of feeling like we’re the heroes for dropping a dollar or two in the can held out by the homeless person, or for contributing to a food bank, or stopping to help an older gentleman shovel his car out of a snow bank, we should recognize the Morey’s of the world may be the real heroes. Maybe they are placed along or even sometimes put in the middle of our paths to shake us out of ourselves and offer us the opportunity to grow, to reach, to open our hearts and to remind us of the goodness that is within us all. To be able to feel helpful we all need someone who needs our help, so how can those courageous souls not be real heroes? They are the ones taking the risk. Their risk is that we will stop, acknowledge them, reach out and respond. If we don’t, we all lose, but they may pay with their well-being, even their lives.
Or maybe even more accurate, I, Gavin and Morey are all angels. In fact, maybe we ALL are angels. That would mean every one of us have the capacity to respond, to show up, to reach out to each other and to be someone’s helper.
Which means there are not just angels among us, but also angels all around us. They are all of us and they are us.