I was out walking in the Irish countryside near where I live -- when a faint shape appeared in the sky like a transparent mountain, reaching right up into the heavens.
I knew immediately what it meant.
I looked again and saw a small speck in the distance. Then it grew bigger and bigger as it came down the 'mountain' until I could see what I had expected -- an angel. Although it was walking down a very steep slope, the angel remained upright as if the slope was no problem at all. The angel was wearing a beautiful dark cloak, which had golden threads woven through it and the internal light of the angel seemed to shine through these threads.
As I watched I was a bit puzzled and wondered to myself, why is it arriving so early in the year? Then it dawned on me that it was already November. The angel was arriving at the usual time. It was me who had lost track of time.
I see angels every day and always have done. I cannot remember a time when I have not seen angels. I see them as physically as I see my daughter sitting across the dinner table from me and I talk with them as I talk with other people, although I can also communicate with them without words.
Each year in November I start to see these special angels -- I call them blessings angels. Their numbers continue to build until it reaches a peak around the end of December. Then, in the New Year, I will see some walking back up the 'mountain' towards heaven and I will not see any of them again until the following year.
Blessings angels are very different to any other angels I see. They seemed to be denser, broader and more solid than other angels. Their light isn't as bright, and their feet seemed to be nearer to the ground. What really astonishes me about these angels is the way they touch people. It's rare for angels to touch people, and I have never seen any other angel touch people in this particular way. They reach out and touch people either on the front -- in the center of their chest -- or on their back, between the shoulder blades. But they don't just touch people's flesh; they reach out and touch people's souls. The only other time I have ever seen anything similar is when a guardian angel lovingly holds the soul of the person it guards at the time of death, in order to take it to heaven.
When these angels touch us, it's as if they give us an infusion of faith and that makes the connection between our soul, heart and mind stronger. When they touch us they help us to realize how truly blessed each and every one of us is.
We humans can be so doubting; we are always looking for signs, for evidence that there is more to life. These blessings angels come and walk among us, and touch us all, to remind us that we have a soul, regardless of our religion -- or lack of it.
I have asked why it is that the blessings angels visit us at this time of the year? We continually need our faith strengthened, so why are they not here all the time? I haven't been given a full answer, but I have been told that they come at this time because there are many celebrations of God in different religions around this time of the year. Perhaps I will be told more in the future. For now, all I know is that during the holiday season, God sends blessings angels to touch each of us, regardless of our religion, to help each of us to see and count the blessings he has heaped upon us.
A few years ago, I learnt about another gift that these angels give us -- the gift of new beginnings. I was shopping in Dublin just before Christmas and the street was full of people. I saw about 20 blessings angels on the street. I watched carefully as a blessings angel reached out and put its hand on the front of the chest of a man in his thirties. A stream of thoughts seemed to flow from the man's soul into his heart and his mind. His soul, mind and heart were connected for a moment. I was shown his thoughts -- he thought of a multitude of new beginnings, he didn't have to be angry so much of the time, he could spend more time with his children, he could tell his wife he loved her, he could help that friend in need.
The man glanced around the street. It was as if one million thoughts were crossing his mind and I was being allowed to hear them all. He saw the potential for other new beginnings that could make both his and others' lives better. As I watched, the man passed me by, muttering to himself, 'I can do this.'
The angels with me explained to me that the period from November until January is not just a time of celebration in many religions, it is also a time of the intertwining of the old and the new years and is a time of new beginnings across many cultures. They explained that we have the potential for new beginnings all year round, but that most of us are inclined to ignore this potential because we are afraid of change.
New beginnings don't have to be big and dramatic. They are not usually about winning millions, moving country or becoming famous. New beginnings are often about having a change of attitude about ourselves. Probably the most powerful new beginning anyone can make is to start to love yourself more. If only we would love ourselves more we would be much happier, less judgmental and feel much more fulfilled. Our lives and those of people around us would be transformed.
Every day we have the potential for new starts in our lives, and at this time a blessing angel will touch, each and every one of us, stirring up the confidence and courage in us so that we can begin again.
Photo: Angel of Peace and Hope by Harry Clarke (1919) Detail.
Stained glass window from Holy Trinity Church, Killiney, Co Dublin, Ireland.
Photo: Fionnbar Callanan