My friends know how much I love angels. Today’s first reading from 1 Kings 19 tells of Elijah’s journey into the wilderness where he plunks himself down under a broom tree and has a pity party. Gosh, can I relate!
This weekend was a tough one for me as I was trying to discern a major decision and to let go of some plans that I was making. I did not quite get to the place of Elijah who says It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life. My words were probably more like It is enough, O Lord, this sucks already. As Elijah, so I too, have been visited by angels this weekend. Amidst my tears and hiding out in my bed, I could feel God at work.
Elijah too lay down under that broom tree to sleep away his distress. Suddenly, we are told, an angel touched him. An angel touched him! Imagine! This creature tells him to get up and eat. A small cake and a jar of water appear and he complies. A second time the Angel of the Lord comes and touches him, encouraging him to get up and eat or else he will be unable to do the journey that awaits. That food gives him strength for forty days and forty nights. What a beautiful story! What began as despair ends in joy with the touch of an angel.
This angel-delivery of bread came down from heaven, just as in the Gospel, we hear that Jesus is the Bread of Life that comes down from heaven. Psalm 34 invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good. The Angel of the Lord encamps around the people and delivers them, the psalmist writes. The poor one called, and the Lord heard and saved that person from every trouble.
I spent a fair amount of time this weekend, pondering my dilemma, crying out to God, and discovering that once again I have everything I need. God is already at work and has this. Friday afternoon I went for a walk with a friend who told me that she has never seen me have a pity party once in these many months of waiting, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. That was kind of her because she does hear the hard stuff, the stuff not everyone lets me say, or that can be received well. Friday night I joined friends for vespers, Adoration, and supper. The conversation during the course of the evening led me to further consolation. I know that I am not alone.
Saturday though I felt stuck and could see that I was numbing by whittling away the day. That evening I decided to watch Wit, with Emma Thompson portraying Vivian Bearing, an English professor who has terminal cancer. She is subjected to a trial treatment before succumbing to her illness. Vivian goes the journey alone, quite differently than I do. Most of the medical staff around her are clinical and uncaring. This has not been my experience and I felt the heaviness begin to lift as I watched the movie. Oddly enough, the friend who loaned it to me worried that it might depress me.
This morning, I found myself still struggling with reaching peace about decisions. I emailed a friend who is an oncologist and arranged a phone chat. By the end of that, I was in tears but felt much better. He was incredibly caring and asked me some good questions. An angel of the Lord had reached down and touched me.
Afterwards, a long bike ride helped me release the pent-up energy I have been feeling. I came home and ate and drank, just like Elijah. I was gathering strength for the road ahead. Tonight at mass, I ran into someone I had not seen in years who specializes in pain management. After greeting him with joy at his new life adventures, I went to sit down but turned back and asked if I might speak to him after mass. As I shared with him my dilemma, he reached out and pulled me close in a bear hug before telling me to call him this week in the office.
Just when I thought that things could not get any better, an ex-offender I know called me over and started to tell me his story. He had not seen me at the prison where I volunteer monthly and when I told him why, he stopped talking about himself and said he was so sorry to hear I had had cancer. He offered to pray for me. My heart swelled with this generous offer. Another friend joined me for a ride home and on the way, she mentioned this blog and how she finds solace in it. Her affirmations also warmed my spirit.
We never know when or how an Angel of the Lord will touch us but I know they are all around us, working through others to heal and strengthen us. They leave the Body of Christ with us to taste and see that the Lord is good. We can leave our pity parties then and continue on with the good work that God has for us, for forty days, nights, and years. The Bread of Heaven delivered by these Angels will sustain us so that the journey will not be too much.
Recall a pity party that got the best of you. What happened that pulled you out of it?
When was the last time you recognized the Bread of Heaven delivered by the Angel of the Lord?
Jesus, Bread of Heaven,
delivered in perfect time
by the touch of an Angel,
You hear our cry of anguish
and save us from every trouble.
The journey can seem like too much
until we taste and see You
Who satisfies the hunger
we did not even realize
was gnawing away at our sanity.
Bread of Life,
Thank You for delivering us.