Saturday, September 20, 2008

Touched By An Angel?

A scene from the 1946 movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Henry Travers played Clarence Odbody, A-S-2 (Angel Second Class) and James Stewart played George Bailey.

By Pat Browning

More than half of all adults, including one in five of those who say they are not religious, believe that they have been protected by a guardian angel during their life, according to a new survey by Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.
The survey polled 1,700 respondents of diverse religious faiths: evangelical Protestants, black Protestants, mainline Protestants, Catholics and Jews. Researchers found that a belief in guardian angels, affirmed by 55 percent of respondents, is a phenomenon that crosses religious, as well as regional and educational lines.
John Ortberg, senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California, who holds degrees in both psychology and divinity, believes in angels.

"A lot of times when people hear about angels, they think about these cartoon figures with wings, halos and harps," Ortberg said. "I don't think that's the idea. I think the idea is that we live in a spiritual reality and these are spiritual beings that God's created and we call them angels."

In the Bible, angels are portrayed as messengers, many of whom have the ability to intervene in human lives. Psalm 91 makes textual reference to angels as physical guardians: "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."
People may not be thinking necessarily about angels with wings, but instead about a loved one who has gone before them.

"My guess would be … that something has happened. People were in an auto wreck and there was some event that saved their lives and they interpret it as a guardian angel," Rodney Stark, a professor of social sciences and co-director for studies of religion at Baylor University, said.

Those are excerpts from an ABC World News Tonight segment Thursday night. And speaking of guardian angels, I’m sure I have at least one, maybe more.

They keep a low profile, with rare exceptions. Let me set a scene for something that happened more than 20 years ago.

I ran a one-girl office in the center of the main drag in the small town of Hanford, California. From my desk I could look out through big windows and see everything that moved on the street. Directly across from my office was a café that served breakfast.

On a particular morning, I stopped in at the café for breakfast, paid my bill, and went outside. It was too early for stores and banks to open, and there wasn’t another soul on the street. I waited for the traffic light to turn green, and stepped off the curb.

From out of nowhere, a pickup truck barreled through the intersection in a left turn. I froze in my tracks. Literally. I couldn’t move. I stood there looking at the driver looking at me, his eyes as big as saucers, as his truck headed straight for me.

I can’t explain what happened next. I had the impression of being dragged backward, like a wooden doll. When the truck stopped, I was looking over the hood, and my feet were next to the right front tire, just out of the way, but up against the tire. It was that close.

I came to my senses, glared at the driver, walked around the truck and across the street to my office, where I sat down at my desk and came unglued.

Through the windows I saw the driver park his truck and run into the café like his pants were on fire. I suspect he was headed for the restroom.

I will always imagine a big-shouldered angel dragging me out of the way of that truck. He must have been working alone. With a little help, he could have put me back up on the curb.


Wendy said...

Dear Pat,
I loved your story. Many of these stories involve people being lifted or moved out of danger, so those little wimpy angels must be playing harps, and Gabriel and Co. must be down here doing the heavy lifting, I figure.
BTW, so glad he was there to help so you're here to write :)
Love and hugs,

Kaye Barley said...

Oh, Pat. Another lovely and fascinating "Pat Browning" story. I can never EVER get enough of these stories.
I suspect I had a little angel sitting on my shoulder during my wild child years while I was living the life of a single gal in Atlanta.
Every once in awhile I'll tilt my head back to say "thanks Angel." But not near often enough. Your story has prompted me to do that this morning and hope I can remember to do it more often.
And I'm with our Wendy - SO happy your angel was on the job that particular morning!!! for real.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I also had a couple of close calls in Hanford, Pat. For a small town, it certainly had its share of near misses and probably more than its share of guardian angels.:)

Beth Terrell said...

A beautiful story. It's comforting to think there are angels watching out for us.

When I was 4 years old, I told my Great-Aunt Aunt Frances that Michael was my guardian angel. And maybe that's true, because my wonderful husband is named Michael. He must have been a gift from my guardian angel.

Anonymous said...

Wendy and Kaye,
Thanks for stopping by. Sending you hugs. (-:

Jean, Yes,that little town of Hanford had its moments! Too bad we didn't know each other then!

Beth, Your angel Michael -- do you mean THE archangel Michael? Wow! Heavy duty stuff! (-:

Beth Terrell said...

Pat, I did mean the Archangel Michael. I'd heard about him from my great-aunt and thought, "That's MY angel." I don't know what it was about him that made me think that. Maybe when we were talking about guardian angels, I just picked the one I liked best of the ones I'd heard of. Or maybe I really knew; they say little children can be wiser than we adults.