When I was a little girl I was raised for three years by the most gloriously loving and wonderful salt-of-the-earth Irish lady, called Bridgid.
Bridg was a practising Catholic, so angels loomed large in her worldview. Whenever I sneezed, she said, “May the angels bless you.” She told me that angels watched over me while I slept. Occasionally in the morning, I popped my eyes open quickly, hoping to catch a glimpse of them. But I was never fast enough. She gave me a little ornament of an angel praying, which I still have, albeit with broken wingtips. (Perfection is vastly overrated.) It’s a treasured possession.
Imagine my delight, then, when I had a recent run-in with a real, honest-to-goodness angel, masquerading as an Apple technical support worker.
I had trouble for some time with the iTunes app on my Microsoft laptop. Then over the holidays I wanted to buy a few songs, and even though I went through the whole palaver of changing my password and updating my credit card details, I still got the same dead-end message that I didn’t have permission to carry through with my purchases.
Instead of giving up this time and feeling disappointed and frustrated, I turned to Google. To my enormous surprise, I had the option of speaking with a human being at Apple! Imagine that!
I started off speaking with Joy, which I took as a good omen! She quickly said she needed to transfer me to such-and-such department. A young man called Chris answered the phone.
And thus my sublime experience began.
Over close to two hours, he stayed with me every frustrating step of the way, even though we kept coming up with the same dead-end result. Except it wasn’t frustrating, because of his bedrock, unshakable, patience and perseverance.
A couple of times I felt the bitter taste of annoyance and frustration start to rise in my chest – probably at heart level, now I think of it. My mouth wanted to blurt out, “This isn’t working. Forget it!”
Both times I conquered that knee-jerk urge because Chris’s total calmness dissipated my frustration. Like cool water dousing burning coals. As though we were playing Rock-Paper-Scissors with the addition of fire and water. Water beats Fire, right?
I felt so cared for, so supported. He asked for my phone number in case we got disconnected. Which we did, because I couldn’t figure out how to access the info I needed on my smartphone and stay connected with him at the same time. Unflappable, he called me back.
From time to time I thanked him profoundly for his patience. He reacted as though it was entirely normal to be like that. The couple of times I exclaimed, “You’re an angel!” he quietly and good-humouredly demurred.
All the while, he was dealing with my Windows O.S. and my Android phone. Not an Apple laptop and an iPhone, his usual territory. We retraced our steps, formed new passwords, did fancy Settings stuff that I couldn’t repeat to you if my life depended on it. Same result. Dead End.
Undeterred, and divine messenger that he was, he put me on hold for ten minutes while he read up on Windows. Which was perfect timing, because I needed a bathroom break! He came back to me precisely after I had time to feed my patiently waiting cats. When I told him this, he expressed his delight.
Then he proceeded to take me on a step-by-step voyage of: go here, click on this, then go here, etc., etc., etc. Finally he suggested I try again to complete my purchase.
And because Universe has a benevolent sense of humour, I heard a melodious song called “It’s All Right” by The Impressions coming from my laptop. I said to my angel: “That, Chris, is the sound of success!”
He thanked me and matter of factly prepared to go on to his next call. I couldn’t let him go before praising him one more time. I asked him to please tell his mother from me that she did a wonderful job raising him. He said that meant a lot to him, and thanked me. He thanked me! After doing nothing but giving to me for almost two hours!
Life sent me a bona fide angel, to solve my problem and help me, and more importantly, to teach me.
I have a tendency to get frustrated and impatient. Then the “nice me” flies out the window. Ever since my encounter with Chris, I catch myself when I do this. I think about him, and say to myself, “That isn’t patience,” and change my behaviour. He radically raised the bar on patience for me. I’m deeply grateful.
Nichiren Daishonin, the founder in 13th-century Japan of the Buddhism I practise in SGI, wrote: the heavenly gods and benevolent deities will assume various forms such as those of men and women, and present offerings to help the persons who practise the Lotus Sutra. (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin I, p. 35)
I don’t think it matters whether you call such manifestations angels, Buddhist gods or benevolent deities. What matters is deep appreciation for the assistance and protection we receive.
For instance, a 56ft tractor trailer hit an SGI friend’s car on the highway a week ago. The damage to her car is small and she and her partner emerged completely unscathed. I myself had a close call on the same highway the first week of January. It shook me up and also made me realise how much we take “being okay” for granted. Now when I get home after driving in the dark on three different highways, I realise how protected I am, because nothing untoward happened!
So may the angels bless you, as my dear Bridgid used to say.
And may you function as an angel for someone else in need of one.
For as this Heartmath Institute diagram of the heart’s magnetic field shows, we have invisible “wings” that our heart produces when we are being our best self.
We are the angels.