January 7, 2009

What the angel could mean

Luke 1:29

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.

This evening I parked in the garage behind the YMCA, walked to the elevator, and pushed the call button. The doors opened and a tall woman stepped out. I only saw her for a few seconds as she passed, but in those few seconds…..

Unlike most others who step out of the elevator in the parking garage behind the YMCA, this woman was looking up, and right at me. Her face was lit with unselfconscious recognition, as if she had been hoping it would be me when those doors opened. She smiled right into my face, beautifully, kindly, as she quickly stepped past me and out into the garage. I moved inside the elevator, the doors closed, and the moment was over. But what I felt in those seconds of anonymous encounter was … love. Recognition. A peaceful belonging.

Later, in the locker room, an elderly woman gave me a warm, kindly smile. It gave me a point of comparison: Okay, this is what a warm, kindly smile from a stranger feels like. It’s a nice feeling, and it made my day a little better. But the smile I received from the stranger in the elevator was something else altogether.

I couldn’t stop myself from wondering if I had passed an angel who had been on some errand in the Y.

She was headed for her car in the garage, her beatific task for today complete.