And the Angels Sing?

I always wanted one.
A little guy on my shoulder with the wings and sheet outfit, whispering in my ear, giving me tips on positive options, pointing out the stupid moves, keeping the devil and his seductive bag o' tricks at bay. Heavyweight brainiacs through the ages--Goethe, Milton, Dante and Disraeli--were believers. George Washington saw one at Valley Forge, Johnny Cash had a couple of visitations that warned him of coming deaths, and three orbiting Russian cosmonauts encountered "seven giant figures in the form of humans, but with wings and mistlike halos. ... They appeared to be hundreds of feet tall with a wingspan as great as a jetliner ... they were smiling as if they shared a glorious secret."

I'm talking about angels.
Guardian angels, divine runners for the Deity Himself, willing to share a glorious secret or two with yours truly. Not to be confused with ghosts--which I personally define as disembodied souls, dybbuks, those wailing, troubled, incorporeal beings condemned to wander the Earth in eternal torment. A ghost would leave me with what little hair I have standing straight up and a widening stain in my pants. An angel would leave me awash in golden glory, one of my favorite ways to be.

But what exactly do you have to do to hook up with a GA?
Apparently, religion may have something to do with it. I've done my time in church--First United Methodist, 500 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, California, from age 0to 17. That's a lot of Sundays. Attendance was parentally enforced, but it's not like I didn't have some feeling for what was going on down there, altarwise. I've even prayed on a number of occasions--during earthquakes, in bad relationships, on airplanes, in Vegas--and, while I may not be the most devout of fellows, I'm well-aware that I may be going straight to hell for writing this.

(It's all in fun, God, if you're reading.)
But recently I discovered three magical words: Scottsdale Community College. They came over the radio while I was listening to Car Talk, in an ad for a seminar on how to Discover Your Guardian Angel. Perhaps here I would find a path to angelic enlightenment. I called a lady at SCC; she gave me directions to the Turquoise Room in the Student Center.

They had punch and cookies waiting for us guardian-angel seekers. Some of us were retirees; some, in their teens; some, like myself, young and vibrating with the sap of midyouth. Whatever that is. Our host was a woman named Dr.Nina Harris, a Certified Speaking Professional. I sipped from a mini-Dixie full of zesty punch and leaned back in my front-row seat, basking in the kind of inner warmth that only a Certified Speaking Professional can provide.

And there was Dr. Nina at the podium, a handsome, smiling woman with an almost obscenely happy voice pitched somewhere between Betty Boop and Bernadette Peters. Some more on that voice, that Certified Voice: It would soften into dramatic, hushed coaxings at the end of moving sentences, squeak in giggly merriment when an upbeat emphasis was called for. If evil forces ever got hold of a voice like this, unsuspecting audiences could find themselves soothed and grated into emotional slavery.

Far from it: Dr. Nina was there to tell us good things, nice things--practically, as it turned out, self-help things. The hint that this experience was to smack of Stuart Smalley came when the grinning Dr. Harris asked us to "look to your right and to your left with a big smile on your face. And notice the possible angels that might be lurking in this crowd." My neighbors glanced at my unshaven countenance and immediately turned away. Well, they didn't look too possibly angelic, either.

"At no other time in history has there been so much direct reporting of contact with angels," Harris informed us. "Some folks think that they're just sort of a figment of your imagination. We probably all have friends like that who scoff and pooh-pooh about the idea of angels. But we kind of know in our hearts that angels have potential, don't we?"

She did that encouraging, upturned vocal technique, ending "we" with an ascending squeak that had us all nodding and bonding in shared belief. Then the doctor grew serious.

"Since this is a campus, I was concerned that we not speak just specifically from thearea of religion ... but angels are not justaChristian phenomenon. Even atheistshave had experiences with angels." There--I wasn't even an atheist, so I was still in the running. Harris continued. "There are around 300 references to angels in the Old and New Testaments. And for those of you who are into music--anybody like to tap your toes, dance a little bit, singin the shower, that kind of thing? [insert upturned, urgent phrasing] How many songs have a reference to angels in them?"

Titles went racing through my head--"Angel in the Centerfold," "Your Angel Steps Out of Heaven," "Devil or Angel," "Angel of the Morning." Not to mention Charlie's Angels, and that slimy guy Angel on TheRockford Files.

We found out how to ID angels.
"When they come in human form, they can be oldor young, or a child, or disguised as your neighbor. They can take on many forms to present themselves to us," Harris said. "Sometimes, angels leave a scent. Oftentimes, there'll be a floral scent, or a pine scent, that tells you that an angel has been there. Of course, it might just have been a member of your family scrubbing really good with Pine Sol--gotta take in all the data!"

We all had a little chuckle right about then.
"Also, the whisperings that you get in yourear, in your mind, can be indications of an angel assisting you." Tell that to David Berkowitz, I thought to myself, as a voice whispered 'Don't say this out loud' in my mind.

Then I became frightened.
We were asked to share.
"Please remember that everyone's angel experiences are their very own," the doctor cautioned, "so it's not the idea that 'my angel's better than your angel.'" We were instructed to relate our angel tales to our neighbors. I didn't have any, and I wouldn't have told if I did, so I sat there, flustered, while a woman spoke to me about a near car accident she was in. Apparently, a guardian angel stepped in at the last minute.

Then the woman next to her had some story, then they both looked at me. This was like school or something--no, this was like Sunday school, for God's sake!

The doctor told a story of her own:
"One of the times in my life when I felt I had been touched by an angel was when I had just gone through my divorce. I grew up in a real small town, had always lived with family, went to college, got married, had never been alone.

"And I can remember one night, it just dawned on me that I was alone. And I was trying to go to sleep, and I think the grief of the divorce just hit me. I don't remember praying, but I remember looking in the corner of my bedroom and the most beautiful white light built from the floor to the ceiling, and there was a see-through person who I didn't recognize who kinda told me telepathically that he or she or it would be there--it was kind of a nonsexual being--until I went to sleep. So I didn't need to be afraid.

"And every night until I was able to sleep on my own, I had my very own heavenly night light. Isn't that just great? Yeah! [APPLAUSE] Pretty neat angel!"

Sheesh. Heavenly night light. Pretty neat. I just didn't want to know this kind of, this kind of therapeutic personal-bio data.

But the session had just begun.
"I've been divorced for 17 years. It was not a pretty experience [scary giggle here]. I'm still looking for my prince--an old one! [insert more of same] My girlfriends have become cynical, and they say, 'Nina, how can you keep believing that there's a prince out there?'

"I tell them it doesn't matter, 'cause I won't know until my experience in this life is over that there wasn't one. So I'm just a whole lot happier thinkin' there is?! So I think there are things that are important to consider believing, even when you don't necessarily have evidence they are so. It just makes your life happier."

Well, maybe she had something there. I've been believing I can write a column for a couple months now. ..

Though the punch and cookies had been swell, I felt no closer to my guardian angel. Did somebody up there not like me? Was I going to have to start going to church again? I was advised by a concerned friend to consult one Valeria Watson. For 17 years, she has been a member of the Phoenix branch of Church Universal and Triumphant, under the tutelage of founder Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Valeria was even a lay minister for two years in CUT, an establishment whose bread and butter is angels.

"We're taught how to make calls to angels, how to intercede, so it's a real kind of practical thing," she told me. "Basically, humans have created this situation here on Earth, and unless we call to the angels, they have no authority to come here and do anything."

Valeria claimed to have placed many a call, and been answered. "The few times I've seen them I was fasting and keeping my body pure, not drinking coffee, not eating meat, no sugar, not taking in stuff of a lower vibration. And I've not only seen angels, I've seen little elemental beings--gnomes and fairies and stuff."

Since gnomes and fairies would probably just confuse me, I asked her how the angel sighting came about. Here is what she said:

"I had made a commitment that I was going to do this novena--this ritual prayer that you do every day. I had promised that I was going to get up every morning at this certain time and do it. This one morning, I didn't, and I was awakened by this ten-foot presence in my room, and it wasn't like what paintings of angels look like. It was like these beams of light. It looked kind of human, but not really."

Could this have been the same entity who calmed Dr. Harris? These things can, no doubt, get around. I mean, they're angels, after all.

I didn't know if I wanted something materializing a la Star Trek in the corner of my room, but since this whole quest was to get in touch with my GA, I begged for answers. "I would say you should sit down and write what things you want to communicate about, get that real clear," Valeria revealed. "Dedicate some time to it, in the morning and in the night. You communicate to it out loud, and you ask it to give you a sign ... but you have to be aware to hear the call."

That was about a week ago. I haven't written anything down, haven't dedicated any time to grouping together requests and demands for my GA. I have tried to be available for calls, but my life has been devoid of whisperings and shafts of light; I haven't felt theheavenly wings of inspiration and guidance brush against my face. But, as Stuart Smalley would say, that's okay, because I'm good enough and I'm smart enough--whether angels like me or not.



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