Have you ever lost anything that you loved sentimentally, and that you thought you’d never get back, but you did?
Have you ever loved anyone, and lost them, and they don’t come back, except in spirit?
The first week of January each year I think of Angel Whispers, and I’m reminded of the column I wrote the winter of 2005 for our local paper, Fowlerville News & Views. I was moved by the response to it at the time. I share it again here:
Soft as the whisper of angels, the New Year settled in gently this January…unlike last year when my elderly parents were in and out of hospitals…once even at the same time…and my father succumbed to cancer in a valiant fight at year’s end.
He was buried on Jan. 6, Epiphany, a year ago, on a bitter winter day. Fittingly, the cemetery’s name is North Star.
All during December, thoughts of angels whispering tantalized me. It began with a faded and yellowed recipe, clipped from a newspaper long ago, in a box we were going through with my mom.
The recipe title caught my eye as I sifted the box contents: Angel Whispers. Suddenly, I was mesmerized. Why was it in there? Who cut it out and saved it? And had they ever made them?
Most of all, I wondered: How does a recipe get such a name? Why hadn’t I heard of such cookies before? I took the recipe with me, planning to make these delicate angel cookies.
Maybe I was just supposed to think about angels, beyond the usual Christmas fluff.
Mid-month I was out walking in our back yard in late afternoon. Dusk was approaching; it began to snow. I marveled at the caress of each snowflake floating to land on my face and nose… Angel whispers!!
Gentle thoughts on your mind…like snowflakes.
That week I took a load of packages to the post office for my daughter in California and her husband stationed in Iraq.
I’d pinned on my favorite Christmas angel pin, thinking before I left that the clasp wasn’t that sturdy.
Sure enough, when I got home, the pin was missing from my sweater. It had to have fallen out from under my coat as I was jostling the big boxes into the post office lobby.
It was nowhere in the car, nor my garage. Being of a sentimental nature, I’d become fond of that quirky angel pin. It wasn’t a beautiful angel, just a painted plaster angel, with golden hair and wings, wearing a purple gown, holding a star. It was a whimsical Christmas pin to wear with things purple and pink. Plus, I’d grown attached to its down-to-earth, almost scruffy look (if an angel can have that kind of look).
As I sped off to work then, I dismissed any idea of ever getting it back. I pictured it lying in the post office parking lot, either being run over or being picked up by someone. I hoped it would get noticed, and picked up. Not that I thought I’d see it again, because at that moment I was convinced I would not. I just hoped someone would find it as fun as I did, and would appreciate it if they kept it. I just hoped it wasn’t lost forever for no one to enjoy.
It did not occur to me to call the post office; I just counted it lost. Although, I’ll admit I said a prayer or two. A couple days before Christmas I dropped a greeting card into the mailbox for Dianne, our mail delivery person. As I wrote my note, something reminded me about my angel. Possibly someone could have picked it up and put it in their lost and found. So I mentioned it.
Christmas passed. When mail delivery resumed, there in my box was the familiar brown carrier envelope. “Angel pin inside!” she wrote. “Someone laid it beside the Christmas tree in the lobby.”
“I think I’ve witnessed a tiny Christmas miracle,” I thought. As I held the pin in my hand, I had to sit down. I was overwhelmed with the chain of events that brought it back to me…wishing I could thank the kind person who found it and laid it by the post office tree.
I’ll think about that person all year…and each Christmas from now on; and I’ll think of the kindness of my mail carrier to care about the little things in someonelse’s life, like a favorite quirky angel pin.
I welcomed the quietness of December and the tranquil days of Christmas leading up to the 12th night of Epiphany 2005, as the light of the New Year began to cast a brighter and brighter beam across the winter landscape. In that quietness I tuned in to angel whispers.
Throughout the coming year, I’ll continue to look for new blessings…keeping angel whispers, all kinds, on my mind. They can come to you in various forms, I believe…perhaps in the comments of a friend at just the right moment…or a phone call, a thoughtful email greeting, a song on the radio, a quote on a calendar or a tea box.
They might whisper to you in a recipe or in the person of your mail carrier…or in words framed as a work of art.
I have such an angel whisper, given to me by a young neighborhood and church friend. I watched her grow up, marry and settle back down here. It hangs on the wall above my computer; and I think of her when I glance at the words she wanted me to remember:
We are each of us angels with only one wing…and we can fly only by embracing each other.
Gentle angel whispers…guiding…when we listen.