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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Another Angel Gets His Wings

I think most of us have seen James Stewart's classic film "It's a Wonderful Life." Clarence, the "angel-in-training," shows George Bailey (Stewart) what would have happened to the people in his life if he didn't exist.

The thing is, George never thought of the things he did in his daily life as being anything special, as something that would change the lives of those around him.

Really, do any of us?

I'm sure you have all been in the situation when someone tells you -- perhaps years later -- that something you did really made a difference to them. It may have given them confidence when it was badly needed, or the courage to make a challenging decision. You may well have saved more than a life or two and not even know it.

I was thinking about this because I just finished a wonderful book -- I hope you'll click over to Chopsticks and String after reading this, because I share much more about it and it truly is a memorable book and one worth knowing about.

First-time author Jane Knuth from Portage, MI, recounts her experiences volunteering at a St. Vincent de Paul store in Kalamazoo. The book is funny, touching, beautiful, delightful and thought-provoking -- and if you read what I wrote on Chopsticks, perhaps you'll see why. (End plug -- but really, I hope you'll go over there and read that post! Now!)

When I donate things, I tend to do one of two drop-off options: the Goodwill store in Gaylord (because I figure otherwise they are just recycling the same clothes from the same small town) or the Lansing St. Vincent de Paul store.

A number of years ago, I had my trunk filled with clothing and thought I would stop by after my mammogram. But when I got in the car after the X-ray, my hand went into crippling pain and spasm. I could barely manage the steering wheel. I had no idea what I had done to "sprain" or hurt myself -- it was fine not long before.

Figuring it would go away, I made my stop at St. Vincent de Paul to drop my clothes.

A volunteer -- not unlike those Jane tells about in her book -- kindly helped me get the bags out of the car. As I thanked him I apologized for not being able to help and told him about my hand.

"My sister had something like that happen, and then she had a stroke," he said. "You really should have that checked out." (Angel encounter)

Scared me to death, but it gave me something to think about. I went through all the "stroke" exercises -- moving your tongue a certain way, saying the alphabet, smiling, touching finger to finger. I decided I probably wasn't having a stroke, but as long as I was concerned, and it was only four o'clock, I should cruise by my doc's office, just for sport.

I walked into the full waiting room and told the receptionist while I was there. She immediately put me in a room, where they took my blood pressure several times. It was outrageously high. Way outrageously high. I could tell they were scared; I wasn't sure why.

Well, several hours later and after the BP came down, I was sent home, on medication. I'm pleased to say I've been fine since.

The point is -- this guy, this volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, whose name I don't even know, may have saved my life. Maybe that's an overstatement, but it could go either way.

And he doesn't know. I don't really now how to find him -- it was long ago. Yet now and then I think of him with such gratitude.

Rachel Naomi Remen, another author (and medical doctor) whose work is a great favorite of mine, is a dazzling speaker who when appearing at East Lansing shared a story of one of those miracle encounters. She said a few words to a woman -- a stranger, as I recall -- on the streets of New York City. Years later she met the woman again. The words Remen had said had given the woman the courage to leave an abusive relationship and set up a shelter, I believe.

Over on Chopsticks, you'll meet an angel and if you read her book, she'll tell you about others. And who knows -- it wouldn't surprise me at all if you might be one, too.

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.
~Luciano de Crescenzo

23 comments:

Mae Travels said...

That's a really important post. It's hard to connect, but such a good thing.

Retired English Teacher said...

This is beautiful. I am often just amazed at the 'chance' encounters that happen in life. I'm so glad you heeded the gentle hint this person gave you. Think if you would have thought that it was just a crazy coincidence. Think if you had been stoic and said nothing.

Yes, I believe we are often in the right place at the right time to either give a word or receive one. Those in tune with themselves, others, and the spiritual realm hear and acknowledge these events for what they are: miracles.

Jane said...

Jeanie,
Thank you for the lovely review. Your angels' roughened faces are a beautiful reflection of the people I meet every week at St. Vinnies. It has taken me many years to open my eyes to the angel encounters you talk about. Don't stop, we all need to be reminded.

JessInFocus said...

Wow! I am so glad that you had such a chance encounter. Coincidence? I think not!

Dogwood said...

Very powerful.
Thank you so much.
Angels are wonderful to have in our lives.
Hugs, Cory

Becca said...

None of us know the impact we might have on others. It's good to be reminded that we can all make a difference in someone's life, even if it might seem inconsequential to us at the time.

Joanne Huffman said...

Thoughtful, strong and very relevant post - full of important truths. Now to go check out the book on your other blog.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

This post gave me chills... I really think life is full of chance encounters that have the potential to change our lives in ways we don't understand at the time and perhaps never will...

Off to call your friend!

Rosa said...

You are so right. We touch so many lives each day, let's make them all positive! I must use your quote! Love it. xo

Jeanie said...

To prove your point, you just reminded me that I need to schedule a mammogram which I will now do today, thanks to you.
Your episode with your hand sounds very scary.

Bella Rum said...

We never know how far reaching our actions and words can be. We are like pebbles thrown into still water. The ripples can go on and on. Thanks for the reminder.

Gabriela Delworth said...

Hello,

Thanks so much for visiting me today!

Love your fabulous post and all these amazing photos!


~ Gabriela ~

Marilyn said...

Loving this post. What a special angel you met and I am so happy you listened and acted. Now this books is going on my Wishlist with Amazon.

Ruth said...

Your beautiful post shows why it is important not to remain silent. When you feel prompted to say something to a stranger or a friend, do it! We are all connected, and this is wonderful, Jeannie. And gorgeously illustrated. I love your tulips too.

Ragamuffin Gal said...

Very wonderful post ~ Best post of this week that I've read! I am going right now to reserve that book at our library. Blessings to you dear heart. ~Katie

Oh said...

Crazy stuff comes up, doesn't it?
Whew- glad for your "angel" and that you listened! And that you're ok.

Heading over to read your book recommendation!

Hugs!

Privet and Holly said...

I love stories
like this and
I will make a
point to check
your other blog
for more about
the book you
mentioned....
So glad that you
are well and that
there are angels
among us!!
xx Suzanne

Tamara said...

These are special words - thank you Jeanie. There are angels in our midst and they come in the form of friends and strangers who bravey speak their truths. I just love the way you have written this and used your pictures - this post invites deep and honest personal reflections. I've long been a believer that my words have the power to harm or heal - I pray I remain conscious of my words daily.

anno said...

What a beautiful post, Jeanie, with so much to respond to that I keep returning to it, trying to figure out where to start. Yes, you are so right, you never know when or how you might be making a difference in someone else's life. And I'm so glad for every one that's made in appearance in your life.

Beautiful pictures -- I especially like the spiderweb and the light reflecting in the water. Wish I could find that book at our library. Apparently I need to seek out new places to find new books... hope you're enjoying a wonderful weekend!

shoreacres said...

One of the best things about angels is that they're sent to meet our particular needs, not needs in general.

You needed a little word about your health, and you got it. I've been a little funky about not being able to fly off and meet some friends in Chicago. So, I write a post about a flyer I just happened to come across and title it "Come Fly With Me". Next thing I know, I'm getting an email saying, "Well, maybe later this spring you can come fly with me..."

Whether I get the chance to or not, I'm grinning from ear to ear at the prospect. Angel? Just might be. After all, angels are messengers, and I got the message loud and clear: don't fuss about what you don't have. Celebrate what's yours.

robin bird said...

Jeanie this entire post is full of beauty. The photos are so ethereal and add so much to the story/post. Thank you for the comment on my Avalon article. it mean so much:)

My entire workouts is dependent upon the concept of kismet and angels so I am a true believer.
XO

Barb said...

Your wonderful photos led me through your post today. I believe in serendipity - being in the right place at the right time. I've occasionally gotten notes from people telling me about something small I said or did that was meaningful to them in a big way. It has happened to me, too, and I try to acknowledge those helpful times. We do help each other fly...

Wrightboysmum said...

this post was so thoughtful and full of great ideas to mull over and aspire to. I'm glad you met your abgel that day and I'm sure fate remembered him. Take care.

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