Walsh's Wonderings — Guardian angels

Robert F. Walsh
Robert F. Walsh

Talk about a thankless job: There’s no Hallmark card for guardian angels. Even worse, many don’t even believe they exist in spite of their prominent roles in both the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament. When was the last time you thought about them, much less thanked them?

Not that I was all that happy to learn of them as a child. While Jesus was present wherever two or more were gathered in His name, alone I could spend a little extra “me time” in the bathroom pursuing the sins of adolescent boys. Then my Sunday School teacher informed us that every soul was assigned a guardian angel at birth. As a result, we were never truly alone.

Just like that, the party was over.

Thomas Aquinas would later add that these guardians represented the lowest order of angels. And of course they are! There’s no more menial job for a celestial being than watching me binge-watch Westworld for days on end. I can’t help but think my guardian angel looks upon watching over me as serving time as a cosmic lifeguard: a lot of waiting between opportunities to act. It must be like spending eternity warming up in the bullpen for the world’s most boring ball game.

Or is it? As I get older and I’m not in such a rush, I see my guardian angel (and his work) more clearly. I say “him” because my wife once convinced me to get a reading from a spiritual adviser and I learned my guardian was a spirit guide named Seamus. Seamus didn’t have anything negative to say during the reading; in fact, he never mentioned that youthful “me time” at all. He just didn’t say much of anything positive, either. Maybe he was still in shock?

Nowadays I appreciate any intercession I can get. I imagine so many ways in which things could quickly turn south, how easy it would be for those giant metal pipes to roll off that truck and impale me on the highway.

Perhaps that’s why I no longer grumble at slow drivers in front of me on I-95. I silently thank them for slowing me down and keeping me from the accident that’s surely about to take place further up the road. I’ve grown to appreciate those extra car lengths these drivers leave between themselves and the cars ahead of them. I now refer to that once-despised space as my “angel zone,” the area that protects me from myself. I see angel zones everywhere now: in the moment the phone rings and I don’t have to answer whether Mom’s turkey tasted dry; in the party I missed that ended with everyone yelling at each other. When I add up all the times a negative has turned into a positive, I realize how hard Seamus must be working.

I try to avoid working him too hard. When my wife hung the tiny angel with all the shiny moving parts on our rear-view mirror, a voice in my head told me to take it down. (I’m pretty sure it was Seamus saying, “That, my friend, will be the cause of the accident.”) I want to apologize for those years I ignored him by thanking him for the work I don’t even know he’s doing on my behalf, for the thankless task of years of hidden help.

Also, for the bathroom. Especially for the bathroom.

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