Angels in the Cathedral

One woman discovers her ailing mother is being visited by angels--and gently, joyfully guided to the other side.

My mother was a no-nonsense Southern lady who wore hats and gloves to church and social events long after the fashion protocol was relaxed. Every Sunday my sister and I had to give up our gum before going into God’s house because she thought that chewing gum was impolite, not to mention unladylike! Although my mother devoutly believed in God, she never discussed her religious principles in public. If she knew someone in distress she would politely say to that person: "I’ll be thinking of you."

This was her way of letting them know that she was praying without flaunting her spirituality. She believed that prayers were to be offered up privately and her religion was unadorned with mystical fantasies. I say this because any account of personal experience is only as valid as the good sense and honesty of the person relating it. Her world did not encourage the weird meanderings of a deranged mind.

"This must be distinctly understood or nothing wonderful can come of the story that I am about to relate," as Charles Dickens wrote in A Christmas Carol.

In 1995 my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and soon after that she took a hard fall in the middle of the night, breaking her hip and wrist. From that point on, her health took a dive and she was unable to walk again. We tried everything! First a pricey in-patient rehabilitation center, then an endless stream of physical therapists and home health nurses, all with special exercises and apparatuses to get Mother back on her feet. Nothing worked! She was devastated by her own powerlessness and I suffered from total exhaustion. The only remaining option was a skilled nursing facility where she could receive 24-hour medical care.

'I Have Been Seeing Angels....'

One crisp afternoon in late autumn we visited the courtyard of the nursing facility simply because neither of us could endure staying inside on such a beautiful day. Wrapped warmly in sweaters and hats, we shared sandwiches and coffee that I brought from home while chatting sporadically with immense gaps of satisfying silence between our sentences. This was a day when we were both feeling happy and peaceful by the sheer delight of life and the rustling acoustics of leaves that drifted out of their neat stacks to land on the scrubbed sidewalks that bordered the courtyard. I remarked that some of the falling leaves reminded me of angel wings. Little did I know that my simple observation would open up an entirely new dimension in our relationship!

"You mustn’t tell anyone about this," she began softly, “but I have been seeing angels lately. Two of them are babies and they are with me in my bed every night." She leaned forward slightly to place her hand on mine. “Sometimes, when I awake, one of them is hovering over me, almost like a little hummingbird. I can actually feel the fanning of wings across my face.”

For a moment I was unable to speak. A butterfly winged its way around our table and settled momentarily on my thermos of coffee as though to maintain the enchantment of the moment.

"Cherubim?" I asked.

"Maybe," she said wistfully. "I only know that I am greatly comforted by their presence. And I am not dreaming," she added, in a tone that was above reproach.

My mother knew that the study of angels had captivated me for many years, yet until this moment she had never acknowledged them as anything more than a lovely addition to a Christmas card. I knew from extensive research that cherubim were considered elect beings for the purpose of protection at the throne of God. The cherubim are one of the highest ranks in the hierarchy of angels and in Genesis 3:24 they are described as guardians of Eden.

"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." (Genesis 3:24)

In Solomon’s temple, cherubim were embroidered on the curtains of the tabernacle and they guarded the Ark of the Covenant. At an earlier time period when Yahweh was still making personal appearances on earth it is said that cherubim formed his living chariot.

"And he rode upon a cherub and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind " (Psalms 18:10-2 Samuel 22:11)

“You said there are others?” I asked, now firmly perched on the edge of my seat and eager for more information.

My mother then proceeded to tell me that two people came to her room each day to take her into a cathedral where there was music and an altar and lovely stained glass windows. In this room she was able to get out of her chair and walk, float (like an astronaut, she said), and admire the artistry of her surroundings.

“What did these two people look like?” I asked, eager to hear all about wings and flowing robes.

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