Mingling with angels

Have you ever considered that in any ordinary day, your guardian angel just might be taking care of you?

I’m a great believer in Destiny and so therefore there simply must be an angel nearby to ensure that Destiny is fulfilled.  You might like to find a moment right now to recall and consider the many ‘near miss’ incidents that have touched your life from which you have lived to tell the tale.  How remarkable.

Some might put these occurrences down to fluke or luck or even their own good thinking.  On the downside of course, there is the mystery of ill health, accident or misfortune as and when it does occur – a topic that has been pondered for time immemorial.  Why did this happen to him or her … why to that small child … why to that very young and decent person … so many questions that can never really be answered.  Unless of course, we believe in Destiny, in which case perhaps a glimmer of hope can shine through the darkness to bring acceptance and a sense of trust that sometimes bad things do happen to good people and there simply must be a purpose to it all.

So back to Angels!

April blog 1The evening news quite recently brought some joy with the announcement of an award for bravery granted as a result of a courageous and life-saving action.  Twenty five years ago, the now Senior Sergeant Dave Bray discovered a young man about to take his life by jumping off the Tasman Bridge in Hobart.  The also young constable had to overcome his fear of heights when he approached a distraught Steve Bakes on a February evening in 1989.   At the time, having climbed the railing to get close to Mr Bakes, he is now quoted as saying:

“I determined at that point that the best way was to use my handcuffs, which I was able to secure to one of his wrists.”

And (courtesy of ABC news) the quote continues with Steve Bakes saying:   “I dropped, I was heading down, but Dave got his hand through that rail and put that cuff around my wrist and stopped me from going.  I still can’t thank him enough,” he said.

With humility, Senior Sergeant Bray is further quoted as saying that while it is satisfying to be recognised with an award, he was only doing his job.  He continues by adding how great it is after all this time to see Steve’s life journey unfolding.  And what a life restored from that second chance!  Steve Bakes apparently went on to father seven children and is the proud grandfather of another seven.

By strange co-incidence (well, maybe happenstance), a couple of nights later and as a lover of old movies, I happened to find among my collection one I’d not seen before.  The film?   ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, a 1946 classic created by Frank Capra  and based on the short story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern.

it's a wonderful lifeThe film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others – and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. George wishes he had never been born.  But Clarence is able to show George the number of lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be if indeed he had never been born – or if he ended his life right now. According to Wikipedia, the film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema.  And no wonder.  Because it will make you laugh and cry and remind you to take stock of all those moments when life felt hopeless.  Yet without the gift of life, how different would be the world you belong to.

As with all old movies, there are some tedious moments.  But there are some beautiful moments and it is those that dominate the story and leave smiling memories.  My favourite line comes right at the beginning when God is making arrangements to answer the prayers of George’s family and friends.  The chosen angel, Clarence, asks ‘what’s the problem – is George ill or dying?’  And the reply comes back.  ‘No, he’s not ill or dying … he’s discouraged.’

What a simple yet o-so-powerful word.  How much stronger really, than the word ‘depression’, a word that has become so much a part of our vernacular today?    ‘Discouraged’ spells the promise of hope.  It reminds us of our innate human courage and that it can be possible to lift oneself above depression, the very concept of which seems to drag one down.  To recognize feelings of discouragement is also to realize the possibility of another’s assistance – someone to encourage, support and provide hope.  And so Clarence, (a fairly improbable angel) quite amusingly, comes to George’s rescue and eventually restores him to hope.  I really recommend this film.

And by the way, have a look around right now.  Your guardian angel might be standing there next to you – in the guise of a funny old man, a controlling friend, a woman who seems to care too much, an annoying child … or within the ranks of those very people you so dearly love.  Who knows?  I’ve had a few angels taking care of me over the years and now that I’m a wake up to them, I’m certainly going to look closely at everyone I mingle with from now on.