I BELIEVE IN HUMAN ANGELS. I also believe that as humans, we have a great need for love. I discovered a real treasure when I finally put the two together!
Here’s my story:
Over the last few years, I spent many days visiting my 102-year-old grandmother who lives on the memory care unit of Martin Luther Care Center. Each time I made my way to her room, I’d walk by lonely, anxious and sad-looking residents. Since my spiritual practice is to “Be Love,” I would stop and hold a hand, caress a cheek or offer simple acknowledgment of feelings. Within a couple of minutes, the person lit up. Realizing I could make a big difference with this medicine of Love, I began to envision a “Love Angel” volunteer program focused on compassion care.
Not long after I announced my vision to friends and center staff, an angel appeared to solidify the mission. I was recovering from my second major foot surgery and knew I had to amplify my “patience practice.” I wrote the word “patience” on a sticky note as my focus. Shortly thereafter, during a visit to Grandma, I encountered a new resident sitting alone in the lounge area of the unit. I asked if I could elevate my foot on the couch by her. She asked me what was wrong and I gave her my story of many years of painful foot problems. She looked off into the ethers and simply said, “God says to be patient and He will heal your foot!”
I was awestruck as she continued to say, “patience, patience, patience.”
I smiled and asked her if she’d be one of my “Love Angels.”
She said, “Of course, but you must wear my ring.” She took a glowing, silver ring off her finger and placed it in my hesitant hand.
“I can’t take your ring,” I told her, but she pressed on.
“You can give it back to me someday, but you need it now.”
To my joy, the ring beheld a little angel holding a heart. And — no kidding — the heart said, “I love you.”
Thus, I had found my first “Love Angel,” an Alzheimer’s patient no less, and the program birthed itself. Imagine a group of “angels” flocking about with angel feathers adding a light, loving presence to a nursing home. In our special T-shirts (and sometimes wings), we offer comfort and compassion. Through deep listening or holding a hand, our volunteers spread joy and embrace suffering without trying to “fix” it. Being a witness to feelings or fears is often the most powerful medicine we can offer. Simply “holding space” for someone’s emotions can make a huge impact even just for a few minutes.
Simple statements like these offers relief and comfort: I hear how you feel; I know; I understand; tell me about it.
One resident told us how wonderful the Love Angels are and how good it feels to have someone hold her hand and talk to her. One resident said he wanted us to be part of his “family.” Another was distraught that she had forgotten the Lord’s prayer, so I wrote the words for her on a large piece of paper so she could read it (and she did for the next half hour!) The miracle is that we are not the true angels — the residents are. Each of us feels like we receive more than we give, which was quite unexpected.
Our community needs this Love medicine on many fronts. As I spread my angel wings, I am blessed to know the power of Love and hope you will join me in some small way. Will you be a Love Angel? Give a kindness to someone in need with just a gentle touch or kind word? It really is so simple.