A mother receives comforting reassurance right when she needs it most.
- Posted on Nov 2, 2018
Mom and I walked quickly across the parking lot at St. Mary’s Church in Glens Falls, New York, where we lived. I checked the announcement from the bulletin I held in my hand again. It announced the time and place of a new Bible study tonight. “I think I know right where the room is,” I said.
It was strange how the announcement had caught not only my eye but Mom’s too. I grew up at St. Mary’s, and there must have been dozens of Bible studies at our church over the years. We never went. But for whatever reason, we both wanted to go to this one.
We walked into the building and looked around. There was nobody but us in the entryway. I didn’t hear anyone. “I think it’s this way,” I said, leading Mom down the hall.
I was used to taking charge. I was a school principal, with a long teaching career. I taught my students to keep working until they solved a problem. And I would keep searching until I found this Bible study! Mom and I turned the corner and found...an empty room.
“Maybe it’s upstairs,” said Mom.
This time she led the way. I glanced at my watch. We still had several minutes before the class started, but I didn’t like feeling lost. It reminded me of my early days as a second-grade teacher here, back when I was just learning the ropes. I didn’t have much experience but I was eager to try new things. That first year I planned a big Christmas play. A class mother got us free elf hats from the Glens Falls National Bank, and I wrote a script about elves with a part for everyone.
The following year I decided to do a Nativity play. I based it on the classic picture book, The Littlest Angel, the story of a rambunctious boy-angel who finds it difficult to fit in with the ordered world of heaven.
I worked hard to create parts just right for every child in my class. Our best reader was the narrator. A girl who loved to sing got a solo. But there was one part I had to work extra hard to write. The part for a boy named David. I remembered that student like I had taught him yesterday.
“I don’t hear anybody,” said Mom, peering down another empty hallway. “Maybe we should have gone downstairs instead of up.”
“Let’s try this again,” I said.
Try again. How many times had I encouraged David to do that? He was a smart boy. He was always eager to please. He just had a hard time sitting still. Even for his age, David had a lot of excess energy. That came in handy when I needed someone to run an errand for Teacher, but it was also a problem when he needed to focus on math or reading. I had to think up just the right part for him in our play.
David put his whole heart into it. He wanted to do his best for the audience, for the rest of the cast, for me and for God. The day of the performance he was very nervous. “What if I forget what to do?” he said as I helped him into his costume and straightened his halo over his head.
“You don’t have to worry about that,” I said. “You’re an angel. You just run down from your spot in the chorus, right to the front of the stage. Pretend that you’re flying. Then you hold up your golden box—your gift for Baby Jesus.”
“What if I make a mistake?” he said. “Or do a bad job?”
“When you’re on stage,” I said, “remember this. You are not there alone. Your angels are with you. Rely on them and they’ll guide you. And your own guardian angel will be right by your side. He would never miss seeing you in a play about the birth of Jesus!” I could still see David’s big smile in response.
Down to the main level, and down another flight of stairs, Mom and I followed another long hallway. Here, at last, we saw signs of life. “Is this the Bible study?” I asked.
“You’re right on time,” said the teacher. “Take a seat.”
As we got settled I ran through David’s performance in my mind. He was the star of the Christmas play. He played his part perfectly, zooming out of his spot in the choir and holding up his golden box. I’d never doubted that David could do it, but watching him prove it to himself was something special.
David believed in guardian angels that night. I hoped that wherever he was he still believed in guardian angels now.
The year of The Littlest Angel was my last at Saint Mary’s. I went back to school for my master’s. The school where I next worked wasn’t far from Saint Mary’s, but I rarely had any reason to visit. I never forgot that first job, or the first children I taught. Not just David, but the other boys too, and the girls, their parents even . . .
My eye fell on another woman at the Bible study. She looked familiar. Was I seeing things, or was David’s mother sitting just a few feet away from me? I almost laughed out loud. What were the odds?
When the Bible study was over I re-introduced myself. “I taught your son David,” I said. “We put on a play . . .”
“The Littlest Angel!” she said. “I’ll never forget it. David was so proud when it was all over.”
I recalled for her how nervous David had been before the show, and how I’d tried to give him confidence. “I knew David would have angels with him on the stage,” I said. “By the time the night was over, David knew it too.”
For a moment David’s mom went quiet. I thought I might have said something wrong. Was David all right these days? What had become of him, I had no idea.
“David’s enlisted in the Army,” his mom said. “He leaves tomorrow. He’s been nervous about it. I’ve been worried about him too. Thanks for reminding me that he won’t be alone. His angels will be with him now just like they were then.”
I didn’t see David’s mother again after that night, and I’ve since moved to Ohio. But I’ve never worried about my young, energetic student again. I know that wherever he is, he has angels by his side.
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