In excelsis

Angels we have heard on high. But rarely do we see them. When we’re low and need the peace to help us muster a smile, it may take an angel or two.

Seasons show us the cyclical nature of life. One year ago I was being prepped for surgery to remove a very large tumor from my abdomen. Benign, but large. I hadn’t noticed it. Not really. A growing sense of something being wrong gnawed at me but I couldn’t name it. Until the doctors did.

It’s a football, they said. I joked and laughed and made them laugh and took notes for future films that I’d write, but everything inside me fought the idea that this could be my last set of days on earth.

When faced with mortality, the precipice seems deep, the chasm uncrossable, the glorious invisible.

Being the teacher that I am, I started making lists, tidying my life, giving things away. My 80 year old grandmother had done the same thing. I’d watched her. She’d be ready. Always prepared, I store boots and gloves and granola bars in my trunk when it starts getting cold outside even though I live in a temperate place. I made a call one day to a nearby funeral home. I’d have my things in order.

Something broke in me. You can’t prepare for everything. I hung up with the home and called a pastor friend. He said, come on over. Some people are watching the game, but we have homemade chili on. Come over.

When I told him of the plot to buy a plot he laughed out loud and hugged me hard. His beautiful wife cried. He said, “Cancel that appointment. I’LL BUY IT when the time comes but it’s not going to be for a very long time. But just take that off your LIST!” He offered to be there when I went under. He offered to pray.

I’ve never believed that God was a puppeteer, but I do believe that he drops moments of sacred into our daily lives. If we are on the watch for it, we might glimpse his glory.

It was there on that pastor’s face that night, gleaming in the tears on his wife’s cheek, it might even have been in the chili. I’ve seen it when I’ve least expected it but rarely when I begged for it. I don’t know why that’s the way it works, but it’s been there on nurses faces, in changing leaves, in sunrise walks to the water, in movie popcorn and late night texts, at a mountain overlook by a Sasquatch rest stop, in nephew hugs and Walnut street coffee. I’ve glimpsed it, the sacred in the daily. I’ve seen His goodness on faces in unexpected places. Seen His face in places I once felt afraid.

I can’t plan for everything. I’ve been gifted more moments, and now I believe I must use them to still my soul to listen to the far off tune sung in the flutter of wings, “Glo-o-o-o-ria, in excelsis deo.”

Stephanie Platter is a teacher, writer, film critic, and coffee lover who is making a list of daily gratitudes. You are probably on it. Photo by Hide Obara on Unsplash.

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