My religion is a religion of sharing, not of following. It is a religion of LOVE.
When I was ten years old, I was learning about the real meaning of faith. Our little A-frame church had a tapestry above the pulpit, in bold purple letters, stating that the “greatest virtue of them all” was faith.
I asked my mother, father and my Sunday School teacher to explain to me exactly what faith meant.
The answer was clear; to know, deep in your heart, that your belief is true.
All my life, up to that point, my upbringing told me to believe in God, Christ and Heaven. As far as I could remember, I had never actually seen or heard any one of them. Sure, I was beginning to understand that a beautiful day was God, my mother’s beautiful singing was God and Jesus was always with me. I had no proof. Nothing tangible.
As for Heaven . . . what did I know of this? It was in the sky and everything there; including my grandparents, are happy, safe and live in bliss. I wasn’t sure, exactly, what that meant, though.
Every night, of course, I said my prayers and according to our minister, I could pray for whatever I wanted. I asked for a sign. A sign to let me know, without doubt, that Jesus was really there. That He was really true and not just in my imagination.
You see, I had prayed for quite a few things and many of them didn’t come to me. I prayed a lot, too. Also, as my mother taught me, I was grateful for all the things I did have or received. Still, if God could do everything, and I had faith, how come not everything happened as I prayed?
What I wanted most, though, was true faith. I wanted so much to believe. And I was finding that very difficult because I couldn’t see God, Jesus or even Heaven. I saw the sky, no doubt, but I didn’t see my grandparents or my Uncle Pete who was the first person I ever knew to die. He died when I was seven years old. One night, about a year after he died, Mom and I saw Uncle Pete and his truck on the side of the road. We both saw him clearly and he waved at us! When we turned around and went back, there was no truck and no Uncle Pete. Thus, to my mind, he wasn’t in Heaven; he was there, in Phoenix, AZ, waving at us!
My nightly ritual continued, asking God and Jesus for a sign. Sometimes I would ask them for a specific sign and I often got it. For example, I’d admonish, “If you’re really there, make my curtains move!” And they did!
Nevertheless, I wanted something a little more obvious, unmistakable. Perhaps, the air conditioner was making my curtains move? I prayed.
One Wednesday afternoon, Mom and I went to the church so she could rehearse her solo for the next Sunday. The organist, Marie, was there before we arrived and the three of us moved to the front pew. My mother and Marie, at the organ, began the rehearsal. I was drawing pictures on a sketch pad, and periodically looking up to the large brown cross hovering over the altar above the pulpit.
It was a good time to talk to God and repeat my prayer for a sign.
About that time, a huge breeze swept up the aisle between the pews and whipped my hair into my face. An impossibility as we were far into the church, and the only doors were too far way to create such a huge gush of air.
Nevertheless, I thought Mom and Marie had felt it too. I figured they must’ve noticed; it was so strong! I also thought the minister had come in and somehow created the wind tunnel.
As I, alone, turned to see where the wind came from, at the back pew I saw an angel!!!
She, at least that’s what I assumed, was floating several inches above the ground; looking up at the cross and going towards it. She was completely white from head to toe with a flowing gown and glistening white all around her. Not really wings, more like a gossamer aura encompassing her whole being. In her clasped hands, she held a candle with a flickering pure white flame.
I was staring, in awe, at her. I felt paralyzed. Inside my mind, my mother warned me about doubting saying it wasn’t right. Part of me thought God was punishing me by scaring me so much.
As that thought crossed my mind, though, the gentle and beautiful angel looked at me, smiled at me with a nod of her head and the message I heard in the Christmas story came into my whole body. “Be not afraid, my child.”
Immediately, I could move again and a tremendous feeling of love and peace came over me. My angel continued on her journey toward the cross and disappeared just above the pulpit.
I put my head against my mother’s comforting shoulder and cried . . . for happiness. I now had complete faith. I knew I was not alone and am protected and guided.
It took a while to tell my mother the whole story as I was in a blissful place for a day or two. When I told her about my angel, she believed me. It made me happy as I had often been scolded for having too big of an “imagination” and often buzzing out in school to daydream. It was incredible to be believed and accepted for my gifts, when that wasn’t always the case.
My mother or Marie did not see or feel anything. My mother, to this day, tells me that the angel was there for me and that is why only I was able to see her. Yet, she still believes me!
A blessing indeed!