Searching for Angels: Part Two

In my last entry I wrote about looking for angels in the ordinary people that we meet. I used a quote from Hebrews to underline the fact that they may come to us in disguise. It reminded me of a Celtic Rune that I managed to track down.
A Celtic Rune of Hospitality
We saw a stranger yesterday.
We put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
Music in the listening place.
And with the sacred name of the triune God
He blessed us and our house,
Our cattle and our dear ones.
As the lark says in her song:
Often, often, often, goes the Christ
In the stranger’s guise.

It’s been a busy week so far looking for angels. Instead of getting up in the morning with only one thought – coffee, I have to get up with two –coffee and angels. It means, after my coffee, I hop on the Harley and ride down the road not complaining about the drivers but instead wondering if they might be angels? It was a huge shift in my way of thinking. Have you tried it?
My first stop on the way to work was by this meal program that feeds homeless people. The door to their small roadside shop was open and so I pulled Big Red into the parking lot. The helpers were inside getting things ready for their meal that would be happening in about an hour. They were also packing up bags of take home food and water for the folks camping in the woods. I’ve come to know these helpers fairly well and we talked and joked for a while. Five of them, ages 18-65, are all certifiable angels, without a doubt, disguised as normal people.
I went to teach my class. I teach college students and, having been one a few times myself, I know that angelic behavior, at least in my case, can be rare. Not as rare as sighting “The Lost Camellia”, last seen in the wild, in Georgia back in 1790, but pretty darn close. I bet there were a few angels in my classes that day, but as a teacher you don’t want to stare at anyone for too long.
What about the man that keeps the place clean? Our secretary, who I know has done some angelic things in her life? God forbid, could my fellow faculty be angels?! (I add that one in particular because one of them reads this blog!). This was proving more difficult than I had imagined. What about the woman mopping the floor at McDonalds I spoke with? The polite, respectful young man at Krystal who helped a frail older man who was of a different color with getting coffee and taking his tray away? A funny aside here- the same guy was in line behind me and was edging forward. He said to me: “I hope you weren’t thinking I was trying to cut in front of you. I don’t want to get my butt whipped by a biker today.” I laughed and remembered I was wearing my “Willie G.” Harley vest with the skull and crossbones on the back. I assured him that he had no worries.
Tuesday night I went looking for angels in downtown Rome, Georgia where I live. I ran into two former girlfriends. Could they be angels? I’ll just say that for the record both of them are wonderful women and I’ll respectfully leave it at that. I could be wrong but I don’t think either of them would describe me as angelic!

Thursday, I definitely saw angels at this different free meal program that I sometimes visit. Big Red and I rode over there after work. The two women running the place are amazing. So friendly, helpful, supportive and loving to everyone. No doubt that they’re angels. Then there are the helpers –ones who bring and prepare the food, pass it out, clean up afterwards, help the children, the adults and older people. But were there any angels amongst the folks that ate the food? When I think about that quote from Hebrews and the Celtic Rune it seems more and more obvious to me that angels often travel around in disguise, as people in need of basic food, shelter, and clothing.
This was going to be tougher than I expected. On the way home Thursday I stopped at McDonald’s to get some iced tea. The woman was there again, mopping up. I said: “Are you still mopping? Have you been doing this since I last saw you?!” We had a good laugh at that. When I was leaving I saw a skinny man walking by the road. I knew I could get my helmet on and Big Red cranked before he got there but I thought: Hell, he might just be an angel. So I stopped and talked with him. He was limping because he had hurt his foot. He was homeless and camping in the woods and asked if I knew somewhere he could take a shower. I didn’t know. He told me the shelter he goes to in that town told him that this was the last time they’d let him have a shower there. I told him about the free meal place that I had visited on Tuesday. He said he would check them out. I gave him some money for some food and he thanked me and we shook hands.
Friday, I’m pretty sure I spotted one angel. This one was disguised as a man who walked up behind me and a friend when we were at a gas (petrol) station. He was pulling a wagon with his stuff in it and used the outdoor faucet to wash his face and hands. My friend and I decided to give him a few dollars and I took it over to him and chatted with him a while. When I gave him the money he smiled a toothless grin and thanked me again and again. He looked at me and pointed at me and then the sky. He said: “God always gives me what I need when I need it.” He said. “God bless you.” And smiled again. Now, I know for sure he was an angel. But Big Red and I are gonna keep looking and we’ll report back to you. You keep looking too!

Day 24: Home! Total Trip Miles: 6794 Miles, Sleep, Journeys, Angels, Hospitality

It’s been about 36 hours since I returned from my trip and I’ve slept about 24 of them. The last day of the trip I just kept going and ended up doing around 660 miles in 12 hours. And yes, that part of my body was sore. But there are folks who belong to the Iron Butt Club which requires that they do over 1000 in a day. Compared to those iron amazons I’m more like aluminum.
I left before 7am on my last day, July 4th, and knew the roads would be comparatively empty due to the holiday. They were. Peeled through towns: Abilene, Ft Worth/Dallas, Shreveport, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Gadsen. Saw folks gathered in parks festooned with red, white and blue bunting. Others, on the road like me, were traveling somewhere.
Tolstoy said that “all great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” Well, needless to say, this ain’t great literature but on the trip I did both; I was the man going on the journey and the stranger riding into town. And I met a whole slew of amazing people; some celebrating a marriage and others coping with tremendous loss. I was enriched by getting to know them and their stories, however brief. And there were many more stories I never got to tell, but I hope to add them here someday. The trip reaffirmed for me that whether we are physically moving anywhere, or merely staying put, we’re all on a journey somewhere. And our journey intersects and influences the lives of so many people, for good or ill, whether we know it or not.
A few days before the end of the trip I came upon this quote which I think applies to all of us.
“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think you’ve lost time. There is no short-cutting to life. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.”
― Asha Tyson
Good and bad experiences brought us to where we are today. Let’s cherish the now.
The Bible says: “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”
I’m certainly no angel. Maybe the people, the strangers we meet every day are angels and maybe they’re not. I find it hard to judge. It’s a safer bet to try and see angels in everyone we meet. That’s what I want to remember from this trip. We’re all on a journey. At the very least let’s be kind to our fellow travelers, some of which most certainly are angels.
So thanks for riding with me. Best wishes on your journey. Ride safe!