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What Do Angels Look Like?

October 29, 2008 by · 4 comments

Theo Edmonds

Photo: Frenkieb

In the modern times in which we live, we rarely hear of someone seeing an angel. We sometimes hear talk of angels. We have all certainly seen the great art throughout the ages that depict angels as glorious beings with wings and halos. In the Bible there are accounts of angels being seen on a regular basis. The descriptions of angels in the Bible are much the same as depicted in artists’ renderings – wings, white robes, halos and such. I don’t know about you, but the only time I see such beings around these days is at a Christmas pageant or at Halloween.

In the case of the latter, I highly doubt that such angels were sent down straight from heaven to cavort with us during the one night of the year in America that is officially an institutionalized pagan holiday devoted to capitalistic principles. Is that to mean that real and authentic angels are no longer hanging out on our earthly plane? It all depends, I think, on what modern day angels look like. And, I can say with certainty, that my Sunday school lessons provide no help identifying today’s angels… or do they?

Frances Johnson was one of my early mentors. She was my Sunday school teacher. She was my grade school principal. She was my friend. Mrs. Johnson died years ago but I have such strong and important memories of her that she is always present in my mind on some level. There is one story about the little 4 year old me that she often loved to tell.

I grew up in a little church in eastern Kentucky directly across from a train track where coal trains were ever present. Still, to this day, I find the sound of a train rocking on a track comforting to me. As Mrs. Johnson’s story goes, one Sunday morning she was teaching us about the angels visiting Abraham. I kept squirming to jump up and get to the window if there was even a hint of a sound or vibration that told me a train was about to come around the bend. After the many verbal attempts to get me to stay seated, Mrs. Johnson finally took me by the hand and led me to sit in a most secure place…her lap. Her arms were placed around me lovingly but very, very firm and the Bible storybook held between her hands in front of me like a locked gate.

Well, sure enough it wasn’t but a few minutes till that lonesome whistle blew and it was evident that a train was only seconds from coming. It would be passing right by that classroom window which was now, thanks to Mrs. Johnson, most assuredly beyond my capabilities to see past to the outside where the train would soon be passing by.

As the train rattled and rolled past the little country church house, I could hear it. I could feel its vibrations. I knew it was there. I could experience the physical impact it was having on me. But, no matter how much I squirmed and craned my neck, I could not see it. The train finally passed by completely and was gone.

Mrs. Johnson finished her story about the angels visiting Abraham. When she finished, she looked at me and said, “So what did you learn in the story about the angels and Abraham?” Though I don’t remember saying this since I was only four years old at the time, Mrs. Johnson said I looked up at her squarely in the face with a look of aggravation and said…”Honestly, Mrs Johnson, you are worrying me to DEATH about Abraham!” However, because of Mrs. Johnson, I was still long enough to get an important early lesson that the story of the angels visiting Abraham was meant to impart. Specifically, we are not alone on our shared journey here. There are angels all around us every day.

As children we are very “tuned in“ to the universe and are able to experience the present moment in a way that seems to slip beyond our reach the older we get. As we get older we are taught by the world to focus only on the awaiting journey that is in front of us tomorrow. Because we live in a largely materialistic world, we are also taught that the relative success our life – our individual journey – is comparative in nature and will be judged by how much we have acquired compared to others. We are taught that we will ultimately be labeled as “successful” or “unsuccessful” compared to how we measure up to the journeys of others. We are taught that we will be labeled by as “successful” or “unsuccessful” based on how much we acquire as compared to the acquisitions of others.

This is a kind of existence that is competitive. It is a world of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. It is an existence where we are constantly in a measuring motion and in anticipation of that which is out of our control. Therefore, we find ourselves merely surviving a perilous life in which we are in jeopardy all the time. When we live like this, life can hardly be deemed ‘living’ at all. Because we live in this state of fear, it is hard to be still long enough to experience the wander and majesty of that which is right in front of us at the present moment. It is hard to see everyday angels.

So what do angels look like? As I consider it, angels can look like anyone. A Sunday school teacher who helps you to be still. Angels can be anything. A train that rattles and rolls past a little country church house… you can hear it, you can feel its vibrations, you know it is there, you experience its physical impact… even if you don’t see it with your eyes. Today… angels are everywhere we take the time to look.

Categories: Frontpage · Modern Times



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