A couple of weeks ago I drove to Tifton. It was a beautiful day. After two years in this place I am still surprised by the beautiful days. The perfect blue sky was lined with clouds as though some grand painter had made lines of clouds and lines of sky in a pattern that seemed to go on in every direction forever. Gentle suggestions of the arrival of fall peppered some of the trees. The yellows, the oranges, the reds, the purples, the browns, all of those colors that are at one end of the spectrum and announce the arrival of cooler weather and shorter days were on display, but just as a beginning.
By now the colors must even be more glorious than they were then. The sun in her orbit played with the trees creating shadows that danced on the hood of my car as I moved in the direction of my destination.
I made it to the little hospital in Tifton finding a parking space and rejoicing that I could leave my car and let the breeze blow through my hair and bathe in the sunlight. Walking toward the entrance of the hospital I could not help but sing gently to myself some hymn. I do not remember now if it was a hymn I knew, or some other hymn of my creation that was inspired in the moment. Into the hospital I went and after a brief amount of confusion as to how to get to the room for which I was searching, I arrived. For some reason or another, every time I go to a new hospital I get lost within its walls; part of me laughed when I finally got to the door of the room I wanted, that I always get lost.
I knocked on the door and then walked into a miracle. There is nothing better in the world than experiencing the miracle of creation in all its grandeur, seeing things that still inspire poets to write, prophets to prophesy, and painters to paint, and then walking into the miracle of life. Inside the room I entered was a newborn baby held in her mother’s arms, a father who had been a father for no more than 10 hours, and two grandmothers smiling with a joy I have only seen in a grandmother’s smile.
From the holy event of a beautiful day that each of us is invited to partake of, I was then invited into the holy event of this beautiful moment. I stayed for awhile and then prayed with them and left.
My footsteps felt light, but it was only the joy surging through my spirit that kept me from noticing my steps at all. I pushed the button for the elevator and waited. A janitor came by and we started a conversation. Within a minute we were quoting scripture to each other and sharing our love of God. I missed the elevator once or twice, but it was worth it to hear this man share his testimonies, his joys and his hopes.
After five minutes I said, “I am having a great day and you somehow made my day better, thank you.” He responded, “All for the glory of God!” And so it was I suppose, because I glorified God all the more as I walked back into the beauty that was occurring outside that day.
I surely did not believe I could experience another thing that would make my day better … and then I heard a woman singing. I looked around to find the voice, and there a large, older African-American woman was gently singing to herself a hymn of her own creation. To a melody I have never heard, but I now imagine choirs of angels use, she repeated the phrase, “Hallelujah Jesus, Hallelujah Jesus.” I went up to her and said, “Amen!” She smiled at me and she got louder. We walked for a while together, her singing, me praying silently, but I believe she knew I was praying.
As I got into my car I was excited for the drive back so I could shower in the beauty again, but a part of me could not help but believe I had just encountered angels. An angel as a newborn sleeping perfectly in her mother’s arms. An angel as a father looking proudly on. An angel as a mother pouring out love for the little creation that is hers. An angel found in the smiles of grandmothers. An angel as a janitor who just happened to make my day better all for the glory of God. And finally an angel as a woman who I walked with for only a couple of minutes, the only word we exchanged was “Amen,” and yet it was so much more.
Maybe angels are everywhere offering us peace, and maybe we are angels for others and thereby need to offer peace. I don’t know, but it is something to think about during the Christmas season.