There are moments in my life I don’t understand. Moments where I knew God cared for me in a way I just can’t explain away.
Like two years ago, I was walking down the street in Edinburgh, on a solo trip to Scotland. I stepped off the curb into the street, only to automatically step back onto the curb. A split second later, a bus whooshed past me.
I had forgotten traffic was behind me, instead of front, like in the United States and had walked right into the line of traffic. The bus driver would not have had time to brake. As I watched the advertisement on the side of the bus whiz past my face, I knew something had intervened.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
“From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’ Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God” (No. 336). A guardian angel been assigned to guard each one of us, helping us avoid spiritual and physical dangers especially if it will guide us to salvation.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says our guardian angels “always look upon the face of my heavenly Father” (18:10).
Angels are messengers (the Greek, “angelos,” translates as “messenger”) in the heavenly court; they may behold the face of God and communicate his love and protection to those who cannot see God.
In my mid-20s, the man I had dated for several years broke off our engagement. I was shattered. I moved to a city where I knew no one, hoping for a fresh start but my loneliness was eating me alive.
On the weekends, I’d go for hikes outside the city limits. It was there I discovered my devastation had turned into prayers of lament. As I prayed, I hiked the trails each weekend, frustrated at my ex, at myself and at God.
One Saturday, I didn’t think God was really listening to me. Nothing had changed. I was still distraught and so sick of being alone. I stood at the trailhead, not certain I really wanted to hike that day, when a man tugged at my sleeve, “Are you coming or not?” I didn’t care anymore. I was so desperate; I followed this man who I didn’t know into the woods.
We hiked for hours. We talked about the trails, the new city and shared trail mix. Back at the parking lot, he shook my hand, said thanks and took off. I returned to my car feeling refreshed, encouraged and less lonely. When I looked back to see my hiking partner and I couldn’t find him anywhere.
The thing is, I was at a crossroads that morning. I really didn’t know if I wanted to believe anymore. My faith hadn’t seemed to have got me anywhere. I was afraid to go into the forest, but I was afraid to go home too.
Was my hiking partner a guardian angel? I don’t know. But I look back to that day over and over again as a day where God met my loneliness in a very tangible way. He let me know he was listening. Starting up my car to return home, I knew I believed and would keep pressing on in faith.
The psalmist says, “No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent. For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (Ps 91:10-12).
So we pray:
“Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.”
(Gonzalez is a freelance writer. Her website is www.shemaiahgonzalez.com.)