Agency of Angels

Sunday, October 16, 2011 – Grandpa invited me to attend vespers over at the main building of their retirement community. Vespers is a late afternoon service put on by a chaplain. A chaplain can be a minister, priest, rabbi or even a Buddhist teacher. Vesper, by no small coincidence, is the name of James Bond’s secret co-agent in the book Casino Royale.

Neil stayed back at the house with grandma, while I walked over to the main building to attend vespers with grandpa. I walked alongside him, as he drove his wheel chair. Having played football in his college years at Yale, Grandpa had been afflicted with neuropathy, a gradual deterioration of the nervous system that began with numbness in one foot. As the disease progressed, Grandpa reluctantly accepted the support of a cane, then a walker, and finally a wheel chair.

We entered the Vail Room and were handed a copy of the vespers service program. The sermon, being delivered by Reverend Andrew Rosencrans, was titled “The Art of Recognizing Angels.” On the cover was an illustration of “Peter and the Angel.” The first bible reading cited Judges 6, the story about Gideon and an angel that came to tell him he had been commissioned by God to lead the resistance. The second bible reading cited Acts 12, the story about Peter and an angel releasing him from his chains and sneaking him out of the prison.

The stories of Peter and Gideon took place during dark times. Both men were acting against oppressive regimes, and in both instances angels stepped in to help. In both stories, these angels had not been recognized as angels until they vanished from sight..

The reverend stated: “Sometimes we come to moments of crisis when an angelic intervention is urgently needed – sometimes God is with us in ways we only recognize after the fact – and perhaps one of the ways God sometimes chooses to be with us is through the agency of something we call – for lack of a better term – a guardian angel.”

My ears perked up at the mention of the word “agency.” I pictured a secret agency comprised of angels, and I imagined God sending an angel down to help Peter escape.

The reverend went on to define angels as messengers and to identify Peter himself as an angel messenger. Then he stated “sometimes we are called to be the angels that bear God’s message of good news to people in their own times of darkness and in their own moments of crisis.” He concluded his sermon by exclaiming, “Be an angel; let your message of good news be the light that helps dispel someone’s darkness; because the way God chooses to be present in someone’s moment of crisis, is through angelic messengers like us. AMEN”

The vespers service had been held in the Vail Room. Playing the homonym game, I thought about the word “veil,” which means to conceal, hide or disguise. We often talk about angels, hidden beyond a veil, yet keeping watch over us.

I thought about all this as Neil and I took Yury’s limousine service back to the airport to fly home. The driver’s name was Theo. He was a Romanian, and no relation to Leo. Theo and Leo. Golly gee. Theology? Read more

Higher Intelligence

Saturday, October 15, 2011 – As my son Neil, 15, and I walked through the airport toward the Baggage area, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed the limousine service my mother had given me – 847-852-0007 – and asked for Yury. The voice on the other end of the line asked me to look for limousine number “double-0 seven” outside of the terminal building.

Sure enough, we found a car with the number 007 attached to the windshield,. It pulled up just as we exited out onto the curb. The driver stepped out and introduced himself, with a heavy Russian accent, as Leo. It felt as if we had stepped onto the pages of a James Bond spy novel, written during the Cold War years.

Neil and I had flown to Chicago for the weekend to visit grandma and grandpa (my mom and dad). My parents liked using Yury’s limousine service to transport visitors back and forth to the airport. The last time they had ordered the service for someone, however, there was some confusion. My mother had given a woman, who had been helping her take care of grandpa, $50 to pay Leo. When the limo arrived at the airport, however, the woman got out of the limo and slipped away without paying, never to be seen again. To stay in the good graces of Yury’s limo service, my mother planned to pay Leo the $50 that was owed him when he dropped us off.

Neil and I settled into the back seat of the car, and the driver drove us out and away from the airport. As we sped off onto the interstate highway, I considered the facts of our situation and started to play with them… Double-0-seven. Secret Intelligence Service. Yury. Leo. My mom owing money. My mother’s name is Ellie… And then the seemingly random bits of information, jostling around in my head, came together and connected in my mind.

“Neil,” I said, “Ellie owes 50.”

“Huh?” replied Neil.

“Grandma owes Leo fifty dollars. Ellie owes fifty,” I said. Then I proceeded to lay out my wacky analysis, “Ellie is spelled LE in letter code.” I pulled out a scrap of paper and wrote some letters and numbers:

L E Os 50.

I continued explaining, “Our limo driver is named Leo. L E O spells Leo’s name, so Ellie owes $50 translates into ‘Leo’s $50.’”

Neil gave me a you-are-completely-nuts look, as I wrote the letters:

Y U R Y

I said, “Look. Yury is the name of the man who owns the limousine service. See the letters U and R between the two Ys? UR among the Ys, and then I wrote: You are among the wise.”

Neil looked at the paper and asked, “You’re nuts, Mom! How do you come up with these things?”

“I don’t know how,” I replied, “They just pop into my mind.” I thought back to elementary school. My third grade teacher introduced our class to homonyms – words or word combinations that sound alike, yet have different spellings – their, there, they’re. She made the learning fun by teaching us a homonym game. My fifth grade teacher stretched our young minds with Mensa puzzles, which were tough. While I rarely got the right answer, I was fascinated with the solutions when she shared them with the class.

What is Mensa? According to Popular Science, it is an exclusive society for individuals who score in the 98th percentile or higher on a preapproved intelligence test. According to Webster’s dictionary, the word mensa comes from Roman Catholicism and means the top of the altar, where the eucharist elements are placed. And, according to Urban Dictionary, mensa comes from the Spanish use of the word mensa (female) or menso (male) and denotes someone who is crazy.

When we arrived at grandma and grandpa’s, Neil and I dropped our bags to hug grandma in greeting at the front door, and then she stepped out onto the driveway to pay Leo. Neil and I walked into the living room to greet grandpa, and then sat down on the couch across from where he was sitting. I looked down at the magazines stacked on the coffee table in front of me and gasped, not believing my eyes. The word “Spymasters” jumped off the center of the cover of the latest issue of grandpa’s Yale Alumni Magazine. Underneath, in slightly smaller letters I read, “Three espionage novelists on what it takes to write a thriller.” I held up the magazine for Neil to see, and he raised an arch eyebrow. Read more

A Spirited Game

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 – How many people are aware of the subtle messages constantly being transferred from a spiritual realm into material reality, and how many such people consciously seek these messages for inspiration or guidance?

In the early afternoon I had a brief appointment with my friend Stan, who owns a promotional products business. I wanted to look at samples of small personalized pencils that children can keep in their pocket. Upon finishing my meeting, Stan commented how he had been having trouble sleeping and was waking at 2:00 every morning, with lots of ideas in his head. I acknowledged that this happens to me, too.

This is a widely-experienced phenomenon that happens in the liminal space that separates the end of the night and the beginning of a new day, sometime between 2am and 4am. A friend of mine once referred to this time as the Hour of the Angels. Could it be that this time of peace and quiet is the best time for the spiritual realm to download the answers to the perplexing questions that are in people’s heads as they settle into bed for the night?

Driving out of Stan’s parking lot, I turned on the radio and heard the words “you can’t sleep,” from Robert Palmer’s song Addicted to Love.

When songs on the radio align with my thoughts or experiences, I wonder if some musical angel has just whispered into the subconscious mind of the DJ. Recognizing and acting upon communications from angels through such cryptic means has become a game for me. This game was inspired by two characters, Sophie Neveu and Robert Langdon, in Dan Brown’s spiritual detective novel The Da Vinci Code. I associated with Sophie’s archetype as a cryptographer. Her parents were killed in a car accident when she was very young, and she was raised by her grandfather, an art curator. Her grandfather trained her to solve complicated word puzzles, and, before he was murdered, he had created a trail of clues, for Sophie to find and decipher. The story is a fine arts treasure hunt, in which Sophie and Robert must reveal the hidden meaning behind one masterpiece after another, in order to navigate to the final conclusion – a revelation about the Divine Feminine that could shatter history. My version of the treasure hunt game is a bit more whimsical and lighthearted. I play it with angels, and my husband dubbed it Story Walking.

Upon arriving home from Stan’s, I composed a playful query in rhyme and emailed it to my friend Anne, a collector of illuminated manuscripts who channels angel messages back and forth… between here and there.

I wondered if this would elicit a response. It did… Read more.