The concept of angels has been on my mind a lot lately. Whenever my daughter is struggling with her anxiety, we call on angels to help her. Specifically, there is a wonderful prayer we say:
Four corners to my bed.
Four angels round my head.
One to watch, two to pray,
and one to keep all fear away.
-A 16th C English Nursery Rhyme-
We’ve said this prayer since she was a little girl, and on stormy nights like the ones we’ve had lately it seems to comfort her. It probably helps that the angel illustrations in the book are beautiful.
Angels are a confusing entity for most people. Many connect them to the death of a loved one; like the loved one has become an angel sent back to earth. In fact, this is not true. In Catholicism Angels are defined as: A pure spirit created by God. The website, Catholic Online goes, on to explain - The English word "angel" comes from the Greek angelos, which means 'messenger'.
This understanding of the angel messenger can be seen in the angel Gabriel who came to Mary to share the news of her pregnancy with Jesus. Many years ago, when I was in 5th grade, I had the privilege of acting the part of Gabriel (or more accurately, a child practicing to be Gabriel in a Christmas Pageant play.) In every scene of the play I popped into a drama unfolding, and through practicing my lines of peace and joy helped the characters resolve their differences.
Even today I recognize that the angels’ messages aren’t as obvious as either Gabriel’s one to Mary or even a child portraying that angel in a school play. Instead there is often but a whisper of truth or warning that we feel in a moment of decision. Sometimes their presence might influence another who is the ultimate messenger. Case in point, the police officer who gave me a speeding ticket yesterday…. A clear message to slow down, which was reinforced by a friend as I described my life in general right now.
Breath, I hear the angel say. Be present. I’d love to see an angel in person; especially if they are as beautiful as the ones in prayer picture book. But even still, I don’t doubt that, like my overhear above, I’ve already had my fair share in life of angels on my shoulder.