Pot-bellied Angels

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The thing about angels is that they don’t ask permission to show up.

They interrupt everything, really.

They are so at home in what we would define as our space. It’s a bit unnerving. Irritating even. Encountering an angel is anything other than ordinary.

When I lived in Nebraska, I had a shed in my yard. One frigid, wintery day, I noticed a pot-bellied angel sitting on the roof of the shed. He was swinging his feet and kind of chuckling. I wasn’t prepared for it. I had no grid for it whatsoever. How ever was I to respond to a pot-bellied man perfectly at home on the roof of my shed? What a curiosity! I kept looking out there to see if he’d leave. In the natural realm I could see bits of snow falling off the roof of the shed but when I would glance again, he’d be there.

So many questions! Who was he, really? Was he really an angel? Why did he remind me of my Dad? Now, I’m in no way implying I was seeing my deceased father – It’s just that my Dad had a colossal pot-belly and well, here was this man. I didn’t fear for my shed roof, if that’s what you’re thinking. He was kind of there and yet not. And he laughed!

The resemblance of an angel to my Dad was ironic because at that point owning a home had become work. I was nearly gluing 100 dollar bills to the side of the house because it had become so costly to maintain. I was hiring a plow guy, shoveling walks myself, emptying gutters, working full-time and maintaining the house and yard. I was exhausted.

Somehow this angel made me forget my troubles for a minute, and just chuckle right along with him. The weight of the world may have been on my shoulders but he just nodded his head like he knew. It’s safe enough to say that a girl misses her Dad once he’s gone. No matter his failures, no matter that the years come and go. This angel’s comfort was undeniable. He kind of jiggled a bit. Certainly he wasn’t going to be one of those angels that made you fearful because he just didn’t have that going for him, sorry to say. And he certainly wasn’t going to take a hit for me in traffic. He wasn’t one of those.

He just sat there and chuckled. If I had seen cigar stubs out there I wouldn’t have missed a beat.

The supernatural doesn’t request your permission to exist or permeate the natural realm. It just does. The overriding feeling, for me, is that angels bring news from Home. Their presence ever and anon reminds us of Heaven, whether we believe or not. And that’s good news.


What Do You See?

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Have you ever had a friend remind you of who you are?

I love those rich moments when, as if looking in a mirror, I am re-anchored to my true self. We cherish our dearest friends because they, of all people, hold the looking glass while we listen and resonate to the sounds of Heaven. We hear the truest words with them.

When I told her my concern — that I’ll never be the life of the party — my friend reminded me of our deep friendship that we have cultivated over the years. When I shared my fears, she pushed them away with a “Pfft!” and reminded me of who I am, a wordsmith and an analyst. I see stuff. Without trying, really. Wordless discoveries, brilliant leaves freshly washed with dew beneath my feet. Clumsy attempts, and tiny blushes of color creeping along the edge of the sunrise.

I’ve heard people talk about the Now and the Not Yet.

I think sometimes we see it best when we put our best foot forward, each day working at loving people more than we did yesterday.

The Now. From within my vehicle I snap and snarl at the driver in front of me who takes far too long to make a turn. Knowing with all my heart that this is not who want to be, an impatient curmudgeon, I drive away with my head slumped because I did not choose love.

The Not Yet. It’s about understanding that God enjoys my heartfelt “yesses” toward Him, and celebrates those way more than my lapses into self-centeredness. It’s realizing He’s not torque’d at me, or even mildly irritated. Father God is pretty big on transformation projects. He goes about things in the most unusual ways, and chooses the most unlikely of candidates. A pregnant virgin, a blind man, a prostitute, a leper. Why? I think because when He showed them the mirror of who they were, in His eyes, they would be the least likely to forget what they saw there. They, of all people, would be so grateful that they would cling to the picture He reflected back to them.

When the blind man encountered Jesus, his sight was restored. There was much debate about his healing – sort of like there is today and yet the one thing he said was this, “I was blind, but now I see.”

What do you see?

Rethinking Endurance

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You could see it in their eyes, mainly, a look of endurance. It was the toll that poverty, drought and sheer exhaustion had taken on a nation. I was on a mission trip to Mozambique in 2002, and in that moment I rocked a baby boy named Tivo. Tivo was part of the forming generation of boys and girls, many born to HIV and AIDS-infected parents. Stricken by war, overcome by poverty and grief at their losses, women turned to desperate measures in order to feed their children. At 18 months Tivo bore all the signs of malnutrition and starvation. Abandoned by his mother, he refused to be held close. So angry at the pain and hunger that would not subside, he held himself away from me rigidly for hours until he collapsed, exhausted into a fitful sleep.

In 2002 the country of Mozambique had not yet recovered from the numerous assaults against its infrastructure: civil war, floods, drought, all amid unbelievable poverty. Nearly 15 years of fighting had temporarily displaced nearly five million people, and one million people lost their lives.

Statistically this appears as sterile numbers on a page. As I walked the streets and visited the families, I was completely undone.

Endless mountains of burning tires and garbage created a haze of smoke that made it feel as if the city itself was on fire. So many homeless. So many with HIV and AIDS. The gaunt, aimless look in their eyes tore at my soul. Since the war had claimed an entire generation or two of men, most of the families were comprised of widowed women. With a disease so rampant and destructive as AIDS, many women lost hope and dropped their children off at an orphanage, then returned to their hovel to die. The young boy that I carried on my back and rocked in my arms for hours on end would never know that I cared. At least, not this side of Heaven.