I’m not exactly sure how this guardian angel thing works. I don't know if it's an assignment for only the most cherubic angels (or the most angelic cherubs, if you prefer), or if it's penance for those whose halos need a little polishing before they're ready for their eternal reward. Whatever it is, my family seems to have been blessed with the finest flock of guardian angels ever assembled — for which I am profoundly grateful.
For example, our firstborn, AmyJo, was not what you would call “born to drive.” Her first driving instructor — that would be me — couldn’t take it and quit on the job. The ink was not yet dry on her first driver’s license before she was involved in three car accidents. She’s a good driver now, thank heavens, but there were some scary moments along the way.
Just ask her guardian angel.
Our eldest son, Joe Jr., is in his 30s now. As an attorney, I’m sure he has carefully calculated the statute of limitations on the teenage mischief that we always suspected but that he is only now confessing — like trying to go fast enough over the railroad tracks to catch air in our Astro van. That explains the mysterious dents and dings that kept showing up on the van, and probably the ignominious death it eventually suffered. It probably also explains whatever heavenly breakdown his guardian angel incurred during Joe’s adolescent ups and downs.
Andrea wasn’t prone to such derring-do as a teenager. But these days, she and her little family are living in New York City. During a recent phone conversation, she told us about a) finding a dead person blocking the doorway to her workplace, b) sitting on the subway next to a woman who suddenly, inexplicably, turned and licked Andrea’s face, and c) finding two men standing outside her apartment building, relieving themselves on the sidewalk. Her guardian angel may have cruised through high school with her, but he/she is working overtime now.
Beth didn’t have to do anything special to make her guardian angel sweat. All she had to do was breathe. She has a peanut allergy so severe that on one occasion, inhaling peanut butter fumes from a distance of about 20 feet was enough to send her into anaphylactic shock. Her guardian angel was pushed to the limit that day just to keep his/her job.
And then there’s our youngest, Jon, whose guardian angel saw him through several near-misses with garage doors, being trapped in a car trunk with a friend and an ugly incident during a church service. I won’t go into detail about that last one because he may run for president someday and I don’t want this being dredged up and used against him. I will only say that it brought to mind Bill Cosby’s parental axiom: “I brought you into this world; I can take you out of it!”
Angel or no angel.
So if guardian angels are in any way responsible for the safety and well-being of my family, I’m thankful. Truly, I am. But I don't understand the seeming capriciousness of the system. Why is it that my children seem to have been so conscientiously protected, while other children face the same situations they faced — including the simple daily act of going to school — with disastrous consequences? What happened to those guardian angels? Were they busy? Distracted? Not paying attention? Or just not very good at their jobs?
God only knows.
And I guess that's sort of where we have to leave such questions — in his hands. Sometimes it's hard to embrace God's will and trust his answers, especially when his answers just bring up more questions. But faith is not for wimps. Although there is great power in faith as a causative force in our lives and in the world around us, perhaps its greatest manifestation is the courage it gives us to cope with life's vicissitudes and apparent inequities.
Including the occasional inattentive guardian angel.
To read more by Joseph B. Walker, visit josephbwalker.com. Twitter: JoeWalkerSr