I’m not a big believer in angels – not when it comes to beautiful humans with fluffy, feathery wings and white dresses flapping around in insipid artwork, anyway. What I do believe in is angels as messangers of God. And I believe in saints – both living and dead – as a person who is holy. Someone touched by the light of the Light of the world, someone who brings that light to the world in all that they do, all that they are. There are very few of them around, and most of them aren’t dressed in fine liturgical clothing and lit from without by their status – most of them are quiet, unassuming, simple people lit from within, who don’t choose to be anything special, but can’t help being saints and angels, because that’s just what they are.
My grandma is one of those people: an angel, a saint. Someone who can’t help spreading the love of God, because that’s what she’s made of; she could not keep herself from spreading light wherever she is, any more than a flame could dim its vividness. This is a woman who, sitting vigil at the hospital bed of her gravely ill son, made friends with the woman visiting another patient on the ward, who can’t speak English, and who needed a friend. This is a woman who gives love to all who need it, regardless of any imposed sense of whether a person deserves it or not, because she that’s just what she does – in her actions, she upholds the sacred beauty of everyone she comes across, and people walk away from her feeling whole, in a way that only being afforded utter respect can do – a rarity for so many people. This is a woman who always had a tin of chocolates for when her grandchildren visited; who has six hundred-odd teddy bears (at last count) and still delights in the next one that comes along as a present, and who buys them from op shops because they look sad and need a good home.
Tonight my grandma is in hospital after a fall, and when I phoned her from the helplessness of a thousand kilometres away, her first response was to ask me how I am. I know that she will spread light and love and her own brand of quirky humour in the busy bleakness of a public hospital ward, because she can’t help it. Wherever she goes, she leaves things just a little bit better than she found them, just by who she is. Often, she leaves them a lot better.
The air is thick with prayers tonight.