Full disclosure:  I am not, as a colleague of mine says, “Church-y” in the slightest.

But this, I know for sure.

Angels really do exist.

How do I know this?  Mainly, because several years ago, a student at the college where I work drew a picture of mine and hand delivered it to me.  Apparently,  my angel had been hanging out above my office door, unseen by everyone but the art student mystic.  As she gave me the sketch, she told me how the angel had communicated with her, sending a message, telling her to tell me to “dance more.”

Even now, writing those words sends a shiver down my spine.  Here’s why.  The artist and I had no previous relationship short of a “good morning” as we passed each other on campus.  As such, she did not, could not,  have known that as a child, I had danced and had dreamed of being a dancer.

The picture hangs in my office here at home, a daily reminder to have faith in things not seen. To listen carefully. To be present. To look for joy.  She’s not very pretty in the traditional Angel ways. There is  no white flowing gown, no golden wings, no harp.  My angel is bare and scrawny, with long arms, graceful hands and knobby knees.  She is mostly bald save for a halo of wispy white hair.  But her eyes are familiar; She is familiar. She looks serene and optimistic and sassy….like an angel who knows how to bust a move.

If she is my Guardian Angel, she’s had it pretty easy up to now.

I have had a relatively safe and healthy life so far. In 52 years, I’ve only broken one bone and have never been in an accident.  I am mostly careful, hate going fast, fear heights and believe I am relatively sane.  That said,  I’m pretty sure  She was with me in December of 1978 on the  night I was alone on a deserted county road driving much, much too fast, heading home from college for the Holidays. It was after midnight, and the roads had been dry for 150 miles.  Suddenly, out of nowhere,  I ran into blizzard conditions.   I crept along the highway, cursing the change in weather, anxious to get home.   I rounded a curve, and three deer were standing in my lane of the road.  I slowed to a stop and watched them.   As soon as they crossed and I was able to continue on, the snow stopped.  I drove the rest of the way in silence, feeling lucky.  Feeling protected.

Being a Guardian Angel must be stressful work. They’re on duty from the moment their human beings are born until the day their humans  die.  If the human decides to fly to Chicago, the angel has to go along whether she feels like going to Chicago or not.  Guardian angels of boys probably have it the worst.  All those football injuries and pocket knives and  frontal lobes slowly developing.  Even so, Guardian Angels work day after day…year after year….with no recognition, no thanks, no vacation or sick days.  And unless they happen upon someone like the artist,  they really never get to speak their minds.

“Dance more” she said.

Tonight, I am grateful to the angels who rode in two other cars of two other college students this afternoon, a daughter’s and a son’s….watching for deer and black ice and the million and one real and imaginary dangers that can stop a mother’s heart from beating.

And say to my own, “I’ll try.”

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