Her son needed healing and she needed hope.
Winter cold seeped into my car, making it chillier by the minute. I started up the engine, relishing the blast of heat. I’ll just warm up for a minute, I thought. The dashboard clock lit up. At least another 45 minutes to go. It was a frigid night, but I didn’t want to waste too much gas keeping the car warm while I waited for my son.
Luke was attending his daily Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The location was convenient—it was in the auxiliary building of a church not far from where we lived. I always gave him a lift.
“You don’t have to wait for me out in the cold,” Luke had reminded me before he went inside. “You can drop me off and come back.”
“I don’t mind waiting,” I told him. I worried that if I wasn’t out here in the parking lot waiting for him, he might not stay for the meetings at all.
They lasted up to two hours some nights, and I always brought a book, but tonight I was restless. I worried about Luke, his recovery and his future. He was still struggling with his sobriety. Meanwhile he and his girlfriend had a baby on the way. I didn’t do enough for him, I thought. It was my job as a parent to keep him on the right course. At times like this I longed to confide in someone. I thought of Luke in his meeting and almost wished I could join him inside. I turned the engine off again. I’ll just have to rely on you, God. Through the frosted car windows, the church across from the auxiliary building glowed like an invitation. They probably won’t mind if I wait inside until the meeting ends, I thought. I’ll be warm, at least.
I hurried across the parking lot and opened the carved wooden doors. Inside a small choir was practicing. I slipped as quietly as I could into one of the back pews. The warmth of the little wooden church made me feel at home. I let the voices of the choir wash over me. My anxieties about Luke almost melted away too—almost.
When the choir stopped, a group gathered up front to share testimonials with the rest of us. Just little stories of God’s work in their lives, but sometimes I was moved to tears by those everyday miracles. An incredible peace settled over me—something I hadn’t felt since my son’s addiction first came to light.
I wanted to sit in the little church forever, letting the stories and songs uplift me. But I wasn’t a part of the congregation, and had already intruded enough. I wiped the tears from my cheeks. If only we could have a miracle... It was time to face the cold reality outside.
The offertory came around and I happily donated what I could. I was about to slip away when a few people approached me. “What brings you here?” one of them asked.
“I was just waiting for my son in the next building,” I said. I didn’t need to explain what that meant.
“I’ll pray for his healing,” a woman said, resting her hand on my shoulder.
“You aren’t alone in this,” said another. Other members of the congregation joined the circle, offering encouragement. Some told of their own experiences with addiction in their lives and the lives of their families. The pastor swept me up in a hug, before bursting into a song of healing and praise. When she finished I felt its very real power. That golden glow I saw outside didn’t come from the lights, I thought, but from the radiant hearts of these strangers surrounding me. When I finally said my good-byes and stepped back out into the cold I carried the warmth with me.
I spotted Luke across the parking lot and I hurried up to him. Before I could say a word, he caught me in a hug. When he finally let go, I saw in his eyes the same sense of hope and renewal that I knew was reflected in my own. Arms linked, we went back to the car, hardly feeling the cold.
Normally, our drives were quiet. But tonight we had a conversation it seemed we’d both been wanting to have for some time. Luke told me how hard he’d been trying to heal, and how worried he was about being a good father. I told him how much I loved him, and that I’d always be his mom and grandmother to his baby.
We talked about the angels we’d both met that evening, and the inner warmth they had left us with. A warmth that told us we weren’t alone, no matter how much healing was left to do.
*This story appeared in the November/December 2015 issue of Angels on Earth magazine.