Some people, like Deirdre West, never think about retirement. Right now, Deirdre is 78-years-old (by Indian or Chinese reckoning--they count the day you were born as your first birthday, she says) and we met via email because she is busy setting up a library for hospital patients in South India and my book, "Where Angels Walk," had been one of the books she selected. Deirdre is originally from England, but she has lived in many different places, and she has been exposed to a variety of lifestyles and ideas. I love what she says about her faith:
"Unlike most readers of your angel stories, I was not brought up a Roman Catholic, but a Christian Scientist, though I have always had the deepest respect for other denominations of the Christian Church and for other world religions," she says. "I firmly believe there is only one God who responds swiftly to those in great need, irrespective of their creed, when their prayers come from the heart with faith, trust, and love." (Joan's two cents: Angel-lovers are not all Roman Catholic; in fact, in fact, my readers are of many faiths. Angels have a tendency to bring everyone together.)
Deirdre has always believed in angels, and for good reason. When she was in her late twenties, married, and working as a teacher in London, she received a special touch from angels. For some weeks she had been seriously ill, struggling with severe anemia. There came a point one morning when she felt herself slipping away; her husband was in another room in their apartment. She seemed to be having a hallucination because she could see her adoptive mother--who had died the previous year--standing in a corner of the room, beckoning to her. (Another note from Joan: Remember how common it is for people on their deathbeds to see their deceased friends and relatives coming to escort them to heaven…)
Then, all of a sudden, the room was filled with angels! Deirdre could see them all around her bed, at the doorway. The angels appeared to be filled with joy and love, blessing a holy moment. For a moment Deirdre felt the most wonderful thing she could do was to let herself be taken away…
Yet Deirdre felt it was not her time to go. Instead, with a struggle, she got up and sat on the edge of the bed. She proclaimed over and over, "God is my life, God is my life, God is my life." She then lay down, with a feeling of peace and surrender. Gradually, both the vision of her adoptive mother and the angels disappeared. Within days, she regained her strength.
Deirdre resumed teaching and used her holidays in England to visit India and volunteer in hospitals there. "In 1983 I went to China to teach English in universities, and after six years I left for Australia," she says. "That is where I heard of Sathya Sai Baba and I went to India to investigate his teachings. I was able to spend six months there, and then I returned to China." Eventually Deirdre became a nurse and put down roots in India. "I did a lot of writing on health education, and I was recently given the job of setting up the library. It will have medical books, of course, but the spiritual section of the hospital library is very important, too. I have books representing all faiths as well as some books on alternative medicine."
Until now, Deirdre has never told anyone about her angelic vision. "From that experience, I knew it was possible to see the divine messengers and to receive their messages of inspiration, comfort, and encouragement." Teacher, nurse, writer, librarian...What an amazing life Deirdre has had--and how richly blessed we all are to hear her story.