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Location: Midwest, United States

Monday, November 21, 2005

Angels Among Us?

As I sat down to write about two rather extraordinary individuals, I realized that I had never, in my entire life, talked about them with anyone. I was rather taken aback by that, and I’m not exactly sure why I’ve been silent. I think about these two often, several times each year at least, and have for about the past thirty years. I have pondered their presence in my life and what it could possibly mean.

I want to tell you about two people whom I’ve never met. One, a man, was someone who I passed on the streets of downtown Chicago fewer than a dozen times. The other, a woman, stood before me for approximately one minute at most. But neither ever left me. I’ve carried them in my memory my entire adult life.

* * *

The man was of average height. He appeared to be in his mid-30’s. He had a normal build, skewed towards the thin side. He walked with a pronounced limp. I assumed it was either due to a prosthetic or polio. He always wore a gray flannel suit with black shoes. In cold weather, he wore a dark gray topcoat. His hair was prematurely gray, trimmed short. His complexion was always pallid. His features were nondescript, and he always seemed tired. But there was something about that man that is hard to describe, yet very real. He felt radiant and beatific to me. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? I’m searching for the right words (and failing). He felt radiant. Every time I encountered that man, I felt peace wash over me. Regardless of what was churning in my brain as I walked to or from work, I would see him and I would experience a feeling of complete serenity. Really. I’m not making this up.

* * *

It was a cold, drizzly autumn evening. I stopped at a convenience store on my way to the train station to pick up the evening paper. As I stood at the checkout counter, a woman entered the store, and bent over to fold her umbrella. I remember that she wore a long, brown camel hair coat. She, too, was in her mid-30’s. She was attractive, but not exactly beautiful. She appeared to be tired. I glanced at her and immediately felt at peace. I wanted to reach out and embrace her. No, it wasn’t a sexual thing, not at all. It was this overwhelming feeling of wanting to hold goodness in my arms. That is all that I remember about her.

* * *

What was so striking about these two individuals was the way they made me feel. It was as if I was in the presence of something extraordinary, some otherworldly sanctity or grace. Every time I think of them, I feel better somehow.

I believe I met two angels.

My rational brain insists that what I experienced was probably the result of some weird chemistry of tangible features and a hyperactive imagination. That could be. Perhaps, if I had talked to them, gotten to know them, I would have found that they are just like everyone else. I never wanted to talk to them. I have no desire to prove my rational mind is correct in this.

I prefer to think that I met two angels. The world is, after all, something of our own creation. I am glad that my world is peopled by angels.


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