Friday

Seeing angels {and a glance back at "The Worst Christmas Ever"}...

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We lose our ability to see angels as we grow older, and that is a tragic loss.
~ Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water, p.10
Deidra at Jumping Tandem has always been one of my favorite reads, but lately her writing has been blessing me in a new way. I can't put my finger on it, but her posts have simply been divine. Her It Was What It Was posted yesterday was particular delightful and reminded me of something I've shared in the past. Humor me, will you, as I post it again. It's appropriate this time of year, for the obvious reason that it's the Christmas season, and because today is the anniversary of my father's death - part of the story I mention in this repost from my archives. 

* * *

Can a sixty-something wannabe psalmist with a camera be an artist? I consider the question often - my nose buried in a growing stack of books for artistic encouragement and enlightenment. 

Most kindergartners have drawing and painting skills more advanced than mine, my family begs me not to sing, and though I once dreamed of being a concert pianist, I never possessed the skills to play beyond my living room.

Yet, there's something about how I see through the lens of a camera that captures wonder and frames beauty - or so I'm told, even if my adult children do roll their eyes. So I keep asking the question - looking for answers, for light in the words of honest-to-goodness artists, like Madeleine L'Engle and Makoto Fujimura. 

That's when I read L'Engle's quote about angels. She's right, I think - or so my experiences tell me. Experiences like the one that begins with these excerpts from an award-winning *short story I wrote two years ago:
We found Daddy asleep, slumped to one side of his wheelchair in the hall outside his room. He was a mess. In desperate need of a haircut and shave, his rumpled clothes hung loosely on his tall, bony frame. Both arms were covered with bruises and a bandage was wrapped around his right forearm. He’d bitten into one of his medications and the reddish-brown remains mixed with drool ran down the creases of his chin.
Waking him gently, I wheeled him back to his room, washed his face and showed him the bag of Christmas decorations we brought to decorate his side of the room. I removed the decorations from the bag and placed them on Daddy’s bed. His bed, a bedside table, a small closet of drab, baggy clothes, and his wheelchair were all he had to show for the years he had worked—long past retirement age—to provide for his family. 
I’d never known Daddy to be anything but gentle except for the time he punched mother’s roommate when she wouldn’t let him through the door to see his wife. It was totally out of character for him to destroy the Christmas tree I put it on the table next to him. 
Daddy! Why did you do that?” I cried, prying his fingers off the now ruined centerpiece, but he only groaned and stared over my shoulder. 
I called for the nurses. Though they didn’t want to, I convinced them to put Daddy back in bed. “Maybe he just needs to rest,” I told them as they removed his shoes and tucked the covers around his frail, lanky frame. 
* * * 
It was the worst Christmas ever. Without waking up again, Daddy died two days after we left him that day, and mother forgot how to brush her teeth. 
Daddy was admitted to the hospital the night after I left him to rest. I was by his side, with my nephew Michael, as he took his last breath. When Michael told the rest of the family in the waiting room, his 4 year old daughter asked, "Did you see the angels?"

See the Angels?

Mason and Gavin were only 3 years old the day I took this photo while they played outside. All week, Gavin talked about seeing angels. Lots of them. Everywhere. And he was serious. "See the angels?" he asked Mason, pointing up into the cloudless blue sky. "They are all over!"

I'm pretty sure I've seen angel wings in some of the photos I've downloaded from my camera.

Maybe I am an artist - and one who's not so old after all.

{*The Worst Christmas Ever was published in the anthology Show Off, compiled and edited by Joe Bunting, writer and creator of the award-winning The Write Practice.}

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For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 91.11