Angels Among Us
How many times have we walked down the street, sat in a restaurant, waited in line at the grocery store, or waited our turn at the doctor's office... only to have some complete stranger show us a random act of kindness? I know, I've experienced quite a few of these random blessings!
If we always go about our days angry at the world, with that "I just want to get by" attitude, then we are very possibly missing out on some wonderful, life-changing experiences. Take, for instance, a situation I remember all too well (because it happened to me!). When my son was just two, I took him shopping for the upcoming holiday. After a long and exhausting afternoon, I decided to stop for a bite to eat.
We were seated rather quickly and I, for one, was very glad to be out of the energy-draining, hustle-and-bustle of the holiday crowds. Once we were comfortable- coats off and ready to eat- we waited on our waitress to come by. She was quite busy and we were in no hurry, so I began coloring with my son. Shortly, the waitress came by and I told her what we'd like.
Our food came in no time, and it looked delicious! After a long day like we'd had, I suppose anything could look appetizing, but this really was good. After we were finished with our meals, I decided on a hot fudge sundae for dessert. When the waitress delivered the sundae, I asked for the check. The waitress simply looked at me and smiled, saying, "Well... your meal has been taken care of." I'm thinking, "There is no way she's talking about us. No one we knew was there eating." So, I kindly said, "I think you must have the wrong person. I know you're really busy tonight..." then she intervened, "No! I mean it. Your meals have been paid for." That is when I asked WHO would pay for OUR food? I found the whole thing rather odd.
The waitress went on to say, that it was an "anonymous donor," and they asked that she not say anything. At that point, I'm looking around the entire restaurant, trying to see someone we know. No luck. Again, I wondered who would do such a thing, and... why? In that moment, I caught the eye of an older woman and her husband, waiting at the cash register. The lady just smiled. That's when I thought, "Could that be the 'anonymous donor' and, if so... why?" I felt the distinct need to inquire about the situation and, if it was her, to thank her for her generosity.
I got my son, put our coats on and prepared to confront who I thought could be my 'donor.' I walked up and timidly said, "Hello. My son and I were here this evening, getting a bite to eat, and... what I mean is... are you the one who paid for our meals?" At first, the woman looked taken aback... like she had no idea what I was talking about. I said, "All I want to do is thank the person who did this for us. I don't know why they would pick us, but it was a very kind thing for them to do." That is when she put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Yes... it was me." I asked why, and she replied," I saw you and your little boy having dinner, enjoying yourselves. It made me very happy to see that. I noticed you had packages with you, so I figured you had been shopping for the holiday. I thought, maybe, money was tight and that I could help out. I hope I haven't offended you."
Needless to say, I was blown away. I hadn't known too many people that had hearts of gold, or angels who walked around looking like humans in disguise. This woman was/is definitely our angel! Not only was she doing a nice thing for a random stranger, but she was dead-on when it came to my financial situation. I was about to spend my last $20 on our meal, that night! Thanks to this wonderful woman and her kind heart, I didn't have to. You want to know what I did with that last $20? The next day, I drove to a local gas station, approached some random guy and told him I'd like to pay for his gas! The guy let out a big, gutteral laugh. After he calmed down a bit, I said that I was serious. I wanted to pay for his gas. Like me, he had a ton of questions... why? why ME? are you sure? I told him about a show I'd seen (Oprah), where she challenged everyone to go out and perform a "random act of kindess," and, so... that's what I was doing. I paid for his gas, shook his hand and made one man's day that much brighter! What a feeling!!!
When my son was four, we'd moved to a different state. I got a new job, we bought a new house and I just felt the need to "give back" somehow. I took a position, at our local church, as a religious teacher. I have always adored kids, and this was no exception. One Sunday, I was preparing for class, as usual, when in came some of my students. They were discussing an upcoming event and wanted to know something different they could do to celebrate? I asked them, "Have you ever thought of giving back in some way?" I forgot to mention, these were 7th and 8th-graders I was teaching! So, I explained, "Have you ever done anything for anyone else, such as... raise money to purchase a needed appliance for someone, or raised funds for a sick child?" I also mentioned, that it doesn't have to be about something expensive. It could be something as simple as donating some of their unused items to victims of a fire, or a battered women's shelter.
One of the students brought up making the event more special for a certain group of people. I asked, how they were going to do that. He said, "What if each of us in the class brings a small toy, book or something like that?" I said, that was a great start. It's funny how things like this take on a mind of their own! The next Sunday, not only were there lots of excited kids with toys, games, books, puzzles, etc... but they also had another idea! They wanted to, also, collect food for the needy. I was very proud of the students! They didn't have to do this. It was not a requirement. However... they saw a need and they filled it! Don't ever discount youth!!! They can, and will, do whatever it is they put their minds to! So, the next couple of weeks, gifts were gathered, wrapped and bagged. Food was collected (from other classes, as well as our church), separated into boxes and put aside for the "big day."
The day of the event, we gathered all of the items and put them in the trunk of my car. They didn't all fit, though, so we had to use another parishoner's car! Only a few of the kids wanted to go and help deliver the goods. We were all excited! We pulled up to the house, and these rather "priveledged" kids that were in my class could not believe someone actually lived in the house. I said, "Yes, they do, and they're expecting us." We got out of the car, gathered all of the treasures and walked to the door. One of the students knocked; we waited. When the father of the family opened the door and we saw the look on his face... it was priceless! They welcomed us in their very small, yet cheerful home. As we all squeezed in, we presented the family with the gifts. They insisted we stay long enough to see the kids open their gifts, so we did. The sheer love and gratitude these people showed was the whole reason behind why we did what we did! I can tell you one thing... when we left the family and their home, I can guarantee you, none of the students (or adults!) walked away untouched. We were all touched, and thankful.
I could tell you other stories... stories about two female friends out, late at night and their car breaking down and no way to get a hold of anyone, and a complete stranger coming to their rescue; a story about a dog running away and the caring way in which he and his owner were reunited; a story of pure selflessness, where a neighbor does another neighbor a huge favor that can never be repaid. The stories go on and on, and on.
Angels are not only biblical, spiritual creatures, but there are definitely other angels... angels on earth... among us. All we need to do is keep our eyes open and our hearts ready, and we can give, as well as receive, some of the best blessings there are to experience.