Mom saw an angel once. She was a little girl, ten or eleven, sleeping in bed one night. What woke her was the light from the hallway—a white ball that hung suspended in the air and danced into her room. You would think such a thing would be frightening, but she said there was nothing scary about it. In fact, she’ll tell you that in the fifty-some-odd years since, she never felt so peaceful. An angel, she’ll tell you. No doubt about it.
My uncle saw one, too. Same house, same time of night, different year. This time it wasn’t a white ball, it was a body and a face and a brilliance he said almost blinded him. Again, no fear. Just an awe that left him silenced and humble.
Take those stories as you will. Some of you read those words and nodded—no doubt about it, you said. Some of you likely rolled your eyes and chalked that up to the imagination of a child. Me, I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t know if I believe those stories per se, but I do believe in the possibility.
There are other stories. My wife says her grandmother visited her one night. It was late, something woke her, and she saw an old woman smiling at her. She’d never met her grandmother—half a continent divided them—but my wife knew who was smiling at her.
Her grandmother had died earlier that night. My wife wasn’t told until the next day.
I will admit a kind of jealousy upon hearing such stories. There are some among us who have witnessed the thin veil hanging between this world and the next come undone—lifted up, for whatever reason, to allow a glimpse into the Mystery. Aside from a few instances, that thin veil has held in my own life. I can only dream and imagine and wait.
Angels have been with us since the beginning. Despite whatever differences the religions of this world have, they seem to be a common thread. This comforts me. What comforts me, too, is that we all have our own angel. Put two people in a room, and there are really four.
The Hebrew word is malach. It means messenger. To the ancient Hebrews, anything that brings a lesson, anything that helps in some way, could be considered an angel. This comforts me, too.
Angels point the way. They guide, they help, they tell us what God wants us to know. And if we were ever blessed with the opportunity, they would show us just how special and wonderful our lives truly were.
And that, in a nutshell, is what happens to Andy Sommerville.
Paper Angels, my second novel, will be out November 9. It is the story of one ordinary man with an extraordinary ability—Andy can see his angel, calls him The Old Man. But far from seeing The Old Man as a blessing, Andy has found him a curse. He believes his angel has kept him from a better, more fulfilling life than the one he has—a life that has come to be defined by a wooden box filled with twelve trinkets The Old Man has told him to keep over the years. “You’ll need them,” The Old Man says, “when the time comes.”
That time comes one dark night when Andy is involved in a brutal attack that leaves him badly burned and the boy he’s come to see as a son murdered. Stripped of all he held dear, The Old Man abandons Andy in his hospital bed. Now all Andy has left is his wooden box and a hospital counselor named Elizabeth, who will help him discover the shocking truth of his life.
I do hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of your own. If you’re interested, you can stop by Amazon HERE or ask for it at your local bookstore. Paper Angels is a love letter of sorts, written so that others may ponder the angels in Andy’s life and then ponder the angels that fill their own. Because I may have my doubts when someone shares a story of that veil between worlds coming undone, but I do not doubt it is possible. And I do not doubt that just as there is an angel looking over my shoulder as I scribble this post, there is also one looking over yours as you read it.