Our Personal Angels

Adam and Eve Expelled from Eden by an Angel with a Flaming Sword, by R. Sadeler after M. de Vos, 1583
Our personal angels are not necessarily benevolent.

I was raised to believe I had a guardian angel. In my mind’s eye I can still see those religious portrayals of angels saving people from destruction. The large winged creature holding children back from the edge of a cliff, or guiding them as they cross a river on a rickety bridge. I took comfort in those images as child.

But now I know that accidents happen anyway.

I appreciate the poet Carl Dennis’s thoughts about accidents, luck, and our personal angels.

“New Year’s Eve” by Carl Dennis


However busy you are, you should still reserve
One evening a year for thinking about your double,
The man who took the curve on Conway Road
Too fast, given the icy patches that night,
But no faster than you did; the man whose car
When it slid through the shoulder
Happened to strike a girl walking alone
From a neighbor’s party to her parents’ farm,
While your car struck nothing more notable
Than a snowbank.

One evening for recalling how soon you transformed
Your accident into a comic tale
Told first at a body shop, for comparing
That hour of pleasure with his hour of pain
At the house of the stricken parents, and his many
Long afternoons at the Lutheran graveyard.

If nobody blames you for assuming your luck
Has something to do with your character,
Don’t blame him for assuming that his misfortune
Is somehow deserved, that justice would be undone
If his extra grief was balanced later
By a portion of extra joy.

Lucky you, whose personal faith has widened
To include an angel assigned to protect you
From the usual outcome of heedless moments.
But this evening consider the angel he lives with,
The stern enforcer who drives the sinners
Out of the Garden with a flaming sword
And locks the gate.

Your personal angel

Our personal angels might not be the same. What kind is yours? 


Wishing everyone “a portion of extra joy” in 2012.

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