Okay, so this post is totally for fun and I think it might just be an excuse to share a story I love. Truthfully, I do believe in angels and other spirits, and I don’t care whether they’re literal or I’ve completely made them up in my mind. I have a zen-like detachment from the need to prove anything these days. I have had experiences that lead me to believe in angels and a spirit world, and I like that. It serves a positive purpose in my life, so what’s the harm?
In fact, drawing on the work of two medical doctors, I think I have great reason to believe though. Psychiatrist Brian Weiss, who was just on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday this past weekend, accidentally ‘discovered’ past lives and spiritual beings while using medically approved hypnosis on a client in the 1980s. In the decades since, he’s lead multitudes of patients on past life regressions, completely changing his belief system and medical practice.
Dr. Lissa Rankin is another M.D. who is currently writing on the science of mind-body medicine. She presents the beautiful perspective that if our brains are making all this stuff up, and causing such ‘miracles’ as spontaneous healing, isn’t that incredible?! She has specifically studied the placebo and nocebo effects, two phenomena she considers nothing short of miraculous. Our brains are THAT powerful!
So anyway, back to my angel story. I actually have two and my very.first. blog post ever was an angel story. Way back in my Zahn Zone blog days, when I was just trying to figure out what a blog was and figuring it was for my eyes only, I wrote this post. It’s not the story I want to tell today, so just click here to read that one.
I have another one.
This story happened in 1993. I was 23 years old, a Seminary student at the time, and on my first European trip. I traveled alone to visit a friend who was teaching English in Bratislava, Slovakia. After a week with her, it was time for me to strike out on my own to visit some Western European countries before I flew back home. Laura got me to the Vienna train station, just an hour from Bratislava, where I was to take a midnight train to Munich. Alone for the first time in a foreign country, it suddenly hit me that nothing in the train station was written in English. The guide books had lied! This was not going to be easy or safe for an American girl like me!
I proceeded to start sobbing. Quietly, and while quickly running into the restroom where the kind elderly restroom attendant (the lady you paid in order to get some toilet paper, in other words) looked at me with great sympathy but no English.
Eventually I pulled myself together, after a good cry. I nervously waited alone, noticing every little bit of grime and grit in Vienna, as well as the homeless men who took overnight refuge in the station. I was struck with terror and seriously regretting my plans to spend a week alone.
When suddenly, an American girl came and sat next to me. I remember clearly what she looked like. Long brown hair, a kind face, an ‘average’ girl about my age. She was very kind and appeared very experienced at European train travel. She helped me keep track of my ticket and the time my train would arrive. She pointed out the clock and waited with me. When my train arrived, she even got on it with me and sat next to me in the bright red seats of the open car. She spoke to me so calmly and reassured me over and over that it would be alright and I would have a great time over the next week.
I have no idea how I trusted her so implicitly, or why I thought to ask my next question when she got up to walk off the train, saying goodbye. “But aren’t you coming with me?” I asked.
No, she said, she had to catch another train. But I would be fine, she said. “You’re on your way now,” she reassured me.
I was bereft at the loss of her, but indeed I made my way safely to Munich and enjoyed a lonely week of traveling across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I did it, a young woman alone in three countries that didn’t speak my language. I would never give that experience up today, not for the world. (I’ll save the story of standing outside a Salzburg brothel at 4 a.m. for another time!)
And who knows? Maybe I crossed paths with an angel. It was years and years later before I thought of her this way, but maybe she was an angel sent at just the right moment to calm me down, guide me on my way, and keep me safe. I think so, literally or figuratively.