"Oh, you mean like seeing angels?" she said.
As a psychologist and university professor, I was certain that this was not what this developmental psychology book was about, but I said, "Well, yes, I guess it could be about things like that."
"I see my angel," she announced matter-of-factly.
In that moment, I supposed that for a child who always wanted to stay up later, this had the desired effect; I slowed my exit and said, "Do you see her now?"
"Just a minute" she replied.
As she lay on her bed surrounded by her stuffed animals, I watched her move her spine from side to side, apparently trying to get in the "right spot." Her eyes were now closed, and she started to take in deeper breaths in a rhythmic beat. My wife and I had never spoken of angels, meditation, or the like in front of her, nor had she ever seen anyone do yoga or meditate that we knew of. While I was not sure what she was doing, it was clear that she knew.
After four or five minutes, she calmly said, "OK, I can see her [the angel] now."
I asked her several questions, including how she and her angel communicated. She said, "It's kind of like thoughts and pictures all together." I asked if I could speak with her angel, and she paused and then said, "My angel wants to know why you want to talk with her." I said I was curious and wanted to learn about her angel. She again paused and said, "OK." She told me that her angel knew my angel and that they seemed to be old friends.
We covered quite a lot of ground in the next 15 minutes. At first, I asked some fairly trivial questions, and these were politely but clearly dismissed or reframed and turned into questions of more substance. So I sharpened my approach. I began to ask questions about life, about what the angel was there for, about advice she had for Haley, and, mostly as a test, about any insight and advice she had for me. I asked questions to her angel, and Haley seemed to serve as the go-between. She would pause for a moment after I asked something and then offer a reply. What was most significant was not so much this scene--children have rich imaginations--but the quality of the answers she provided. This little, perky 7-year-old spoke with a profound depth of wisdom that seemed simply extraordinary. Her answers and comments were elegantly simple and deeply insightful, offering the kind of crystal clarity and remarkable depth that I had not heard from her before and rarely hear from the wisest adults I know.
Haley started to wiggle, and it appeared that our conversation was nearing its end. I asked her one more question: "What does your angel do for you?" She said that her angel "lets her know that [she] is loved," and she described being provided guidance and comfort--a kind of centering in love and clarity. She gave me the impression that her angel does not solve problems so much as provide a bigger view of the issues, a vantage point that seems to help Haley center herself, to calm worry and doubt. The angel does not give her love exactly, but reminds her that she is loved. Our conversation seemed to be finished as my daughter shifted back into a sleepy 7-year-old. So we said good night, and I left her room dazed.
Does Haley actually receive guidance from an angel? I cannot verify the source of her insight in conventional empirical means; no one can. But I can listen deeply to the quality of the information she offers and watch the impact it has on her life. What I see is that she manages to tap a vein of insight, wisdom, and love, intentionally and without any previous training.
I have come to think of her angel as an aspect of her Higher Self, or higher intuition. Wise persons throughout history have named a similar vein: Socrates called his voice Daimon, Ralph Waldo Emerson called this the Oversoul, Meister Eckhart named it the Inner Man. I don't think it matters whether this is thought of as a guardian angel, a guide, her heart, or whatever. What is important is that she can find it on her own and that it serves as a wellspring for love and wisdom.
And as children are often powerful teachers, I have found that watching my daughter listen to her angel has reminded me to listen for my own.