Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Angels All Around Us

A reflection upon her time at Anawim Home from Becky Zawodny:

What does it mean to be an angel? Maybe that seems like a silly question- we all know what angels are. Angels are God’s messengers. He sends them to protect us, to show us the way. Angels are sent here for us.

There has not been a day so far in my life that I did not believe I had a guardian angel watching over me. On good days and bad, normal days and the days when I feel like I’m lucky to have survived, I have always believed that it wasn’t just me by myself. Some days it comes from my family, other days from friends, sometimes strangers, and often just divine providence, but always from somewhere. This is something I have never doubted. I never doubted it, but I also never looked at it from the other angle.

Then I went to Nigeria. It was Sunday, August 2, our first day there. We had just arrived at the Anawim Home in Gwagwalada. We were tired, it had been quite a while since any of us had showered, and we had no luggage. Things had been a bit of blur so far; getting from the airport back to Anawim, talking to Sister and taking in the scenery, thinking to ourselves, “Wow, this is it. We’re here.”

Our first stop once we arrived at Anawim was a small sitting room at the front of the complex where most of the nuns live. We sat down, and Sister opened our visit with a prayer. I don’t remember the exact words, but she said something along the lines of: “Lord, thank you for sending us these angels.” Angels. She called us angels. I have always believed that there were angels watching over me, but never in my life had it occurred to me that anyone thought of me that way, especially someone I had only just met an hour before. Immediately I asked myself if she had really just said what I thought she said. Angels?

I went on this trip because I believe in justice for all people. I believe that we are all human and deserve to be treated with dignity, and it is through this core belief that I find my faith and my spirituality. I see God when I serve. It’s as simple as that. And, as much as I do go into every project, every mission, with the goal of service in any way possible, I also always go in realizing that those whom I serve are angels in my life. They show me God.

I don’t know if it’s humble or selfish that I never thought of myself that way—sure, there is humility in not thinking highly of yourself, but had I put myself in the shoes of those I was serving, wouldn’t I have realized, or at least wondered, how they thought of me and my role in their lives? I guess it doesn’t totally matter now. What does matter is that now I do know. Now, hopefully, we all realize what we are to these people and what a huge responsibility that is; a responsibility and an honor.

The Nativity : Nigeria mission has grown over the past few years, from a little sprout of an idea, to something that is bigger than any of us. Water. We have set a goal to provide the people of Nigeria with water, the source of life. Does that make us angels? Who knows? I freaked out a little bit when sister first called us that—like I said, it seems like such a huge responsibility. God sends angels to protect. He sends them to save. And someone called us that.

Now that I’ve been back for over a month and have really had time to reflect, though, I have realized that whatever you want to call us, we have had that very same responsibility ever since we took up this mission. Ever since we decided to adopt these people into our lives we have made their welfare of concern to us. Now I guess I just see it more clearly. Now being called an angel isn’t quite so scary.

The people I got to know in Nigeria, both the ones I met there and the ones I came with, are all angels in my life in some way. And when I think about what that means to me, I now cannot help but to become absolutely overwhelmed with joy at the realization that maybe I, too, have affected someone the way so many have affected me. Angels are all around us.

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