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?"

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Peter Gilstrap
Contact: Peter Gilstrap