Picture living in a time where social media didn’t exist, stories were passed from neighbor to neighbor, and the news you heard came by word of mouth.
Imagine that you live in a small town and that one day while shopping in your local marketplace you overhear your neighbor telling another community member that they heard a rumor that two angels will be arriving to their town any day. They explained that they did not have many details of who God’s messengers were, but had heard incredible stories about their healing powers and boundless compassion. The townsman also heard that the angels were guided to act as miraculous peacemakers and had the ability to bring enemies together, and through love and compassion could help to heal their community. Imagine the sense of hope and relief you might feel knowing that angels of God were near and that the entire community might soon know peace.
As the stories of the two messenger’s arrival are passed around the community, people in all the neighboring towns begin to gain a sense of promise and excitement. A woman in an abusive relationship feels hope that her husband will no longer hit her when the angels arrive, and so she starts to feel less scared as she goes throughout her day. That woman’s angry husband begins to feel hope that he will be able to cope better with life when the angels arrive and will no longer resort to using violence against his wife. A woman who resents her job and dreads going to work everyday has now become excited about life and begins waking in the morning thanking God for returning her soul. A broken, alcoholic man finds hope knowing that he will soon be able to quit drinking and finally break free from his crippling addiction. Throughout the town, optimism and excitement about their arrival is contagious. People are living their lives more passionately and they are thriving. They feel as though their faith and anticipation has helped bring light into their lives, and that they have gained clarity about what is really important.
Then word finally arrives that the angels will appear that night. Everyone in the town is overcome with excitement as they begin the final preparations for the much anticipated arrival. All the townspeople gather in a centralized location to welcome them. The sun begins to set and the people of the town huddle together, brimming with anticipation. Their wait is finally over. As the sun sets over the mountains, the crowd keeps their eyes fixated on the road at the horizon. All of the sudden, they see a shadow in the distance and what appears to be two objects slowly heading their way. The townspeople are beyond excited and anxiously await. As the two figures come closer it becomes clear that it is a person pushing someone in a wheel chair. As they make their way into the square, they see a beautiful, older black woman in the wheelchair being pushed by a sweet and smiling older Native American woman. They both had deeply soulful eyes that radiated warmth and kindness. The woman in the wheel chair identifies herself as an angel and introduces the woman pushing the wheelchair as also an angel and her lifelong partner.
Most of the adults in the town stand there stunned and silent, however you can still see the excitement and joy in the children’s faces. They begin to ask the adults what’s wrong and wonder why they no longer seem excited. Many of the parents looked at their kids, unsure of what to say, and quickly explained that there is no possible way that this disabled imposter and her partner could be the angels that the entire town has been so excited over. Anger and frustration spread amongst the crowd. Hope quickly turned to anger. “There is no way that God would send two older gay women to help save all of the towns!” someone screamed. “We’ve been loving and patient! This has got to be a trick! What can you two possibly do for us?”
The children began to question why the women’s appearance mattered, and the adults quickly quieted their questions. These two women certainly didn’t fit the mold of what all the adults had been imagining. The kids became silent, confused and saddened.
As the images of what the angels should be shattered within the minds of the townspeople, anger spread like wildfire, people became enraged, and began to yell and push each other. The angels watched in silence as the people fought and their love turn to hatred. Even the children began to shove and scream.
Finally the woman in the wheelchair raised her voice and explained that she is not at all surprised that they don’t believe them. All she asked is that they give them a moment to prove who they really are. Her partner raised her hand and pointed to a bush out in the distance. Immediately a lightening bolt appeared out of the sky, striking the bush and lighting it on fire. Some people stood there in disbelief, and began to consider the possibility that these women were in fact telling the truth. The majority of the town still didn’t believe them, claiming that it had to be a fluke.
The angels could see that it was going to take more than a lightning bolt to prove that they’re God’s messengers. The woman turned in her wheelchair & held her arms up in the air over her head. As she raised her hands, out of the darkness birds flew towards her from all directions, circling the crowd, singing and dancing above their heads. Most of the town was now stunned by what was happening right before their eyes and doubt began to slip away. There were still however a few disbelievers who accused them of having set up this whole charade, claiming that they must had arranged for the birds to be released. The two angels could see that there was no hope of changing their minds. There were those who simply refused to be open to the idea that God would send these two older women to lead such a powerful and profound transformation throughout the towns. They abruptly grabbed their children and left the crowd feeling enraged and deceived.
Those people who left in anger were the same people who only hours before had been incredibly excited about the arrival of the angels. When their hearts were filled with optimism and excitement about their arrival, they had great joy and hope in their lives. They would now be forced to go back to their everyday lives feeling angry and bitter, refusing to acknowledge the joy and anticipation they had felt because they believed it had come from an unholy and deceitful place. Many people left the town square that night feeling as though they had witnessed a miracle and had learned a profound lesson about having an open mind and loving heart.
The people who were open to the possibility that the angels could take many different forms allowed themselves to continue to feel the joy they had experienced in the days leading up to their arrival. By having an open mind and heart, their lives improved and they wanted to share their experience with others. They wanted to have a collective impact on the world by creating a community based in love and compassion, built on honest communication, and provided a support system for one another during life’s challenges.
Before the angels departed from the town, they passed by a group of people that were hostile and angry, and clearly wanted them to finally leave their community. The angel pushing the wheelchair stopped and said to them “regardless of whether or not you believe we are angels, you should think about how it was just through your hope and anticipation alone that you managed to find the source of strength within you to lead more joyful and healthy lives. Doesn’t this mean pure joy and strength already exist inside of you?” The group of people became quiet and still, and you could slowly see it in their faces that the message had clicked inside of their minds as they began to lighten up and smile.
As the two of them once again began to depart, someone from the group asked them if they would please thank God for the reminder. The two angels smiled at the group and said of course, and left the town pleased that they had accomplished their job.
I was inspired to write this blog after a conversation that I had recently as to whether or not someone might reject a messenger of God if the image that appeared before them challenged their expectations. I wondered whether or not someone might completely reject something beautiful based purely on their underlying biases. For this reason, I felt that it was important to present the angels as coming from populations that are often discriminated against. My hope was to challenge people's capacity to see the image of God within every being.
In the book "The gifts of imperfection," author Brene Brown states, “Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.”
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