by Katherine von Alt
Katherine von Alt serves on the Board of The Christi Center, and was invited to speak at the Christi Center’s 27th Annual Remembrance Service. Here is a transcript of the message she shared with us:
Good afternoon. I’m grateful for this opportunity to be with all of you today. This is my 6th Remembrance service and while each one is different, the repeated tradition of dedicating this special time during the holidays to honor those we miss most always feels so comforting. For those of you who are here for your first service, I know how deeply emotional this event can be, so please allow me to extend out an extra-large Angel-wing hug to each of you.
The theme of this year’s program is Angels Among Us.…. For lack of a better word, I have been asked to talk about the more “spiritual” aspects of angels. First, I want to make clear that I hold no particular expertise on this subject other than a huge interest, which is also personal, so please bear with me for any tears I may shed.
So I will start first with some brief history about angels.
The word “angel” originates from the Greek word angelos which is a translation of the Hebrew word mal’akh, meaning “messenger”, or “messenger of God”; an intermediary between Heaven and Earth. Angels have been described as “beings of light”, “God’s entourage” and it has been said they are beings of energy existing in the vibration beyond human perception.
The origin of angels in history has existed for as long as humans have recorded their experiences, found within most almost all religions, across cultures and around the globe. Throughout the ages they have stirred our imaginations, representing a connection with the mysterious. They have inspired some of our greatest works of art; paintings, sculpture, poetry and music. They are included in writings throughout the ages. Although they may be called by different names, all have similar functions as helpful spirit messengers to protect and guide us with Love.
Along with my literary research of Angels and my own personal experiences, for this talk I also asked friends and co-workers if they ever had any encounters with angels. …Not your typical office “water-cooler” conversation! I received many interesting stories.
First my own: This picture was taken while my sons twin sons Garrett, Duncan and I were walking down a busy street in Time Square NY. I remember being in a rush and walking briskly to our next destination. For some reason a woman walking in the opposite direction for no particular reason stopped us to ask if we wanted our picture taken. I remember almost saying no, but so seldom did I get a picture of the three of us I reluctantly agreed. While the lady stepped away and was framing our shot I turned to Garrett and whispered “I hope she’s not going to steal our camera”…to which he replied back, “Oh Mom, she’s probably just an angel sent down to do some kind deeds today.” She took this picture, we thanked her and we continued on our way. I never gave much thought to that event again until a few months later after Garrett was killed in a head-on collision, and that picture became the last photo ever to be taken of the three of us together. Was that lady an angel as Garrett suggested? Or were we just lucky that a total stranger would appear out of a crowd and take such a meaningful picture – either way, she’s an angel to me.
When doing my angel poll I had many stories shared about children and angels. Many remember seeing the “angel” of a loved one after they passed. Angels seem to hold an extra close connection with children. It’s common for children to matter-of-factly report seeing guardian angels and to distinguish such real encounters from their make-believe world, while still expressing a sense of wonder about their experiences. Some religions explain this angelic connection to youngsters by saying that “Children are fresh from God and therefore still hold the eye sight enabling them to see the miraculous with ease.”
My niece Kaley was six when her three year old brother Andy died suddenly in 1970 from an infection. After Andy’s death, Kaley would tell my sister that he was waking her up at night by playing little piggy’s on her toes, a game they shared when he was alive. This piggy game lessened as the years went on, but when I told my niece I was doing this talk she said to me “you know I only had Andy alive in my life for three years and it’s been over 40 years since he died, but I sometimes still awaken to that feeling on my toes. Whenever I feel it, I always think about how much I still love my brother because I think that what he’s still telling me.”
Another topic my angel poll offered were angelic encounters during near a death experience. My boss who suffered a severe stroke when she was 22 and almost died, told me of being greeted by her uncle whom she had never met because he had passed during the Vietnam war. He lovingly told her it was not her time yet to come with him. I also had many people talked about amazing angel encounters during dreams, perhaps because our minds become more receptive to receiving “messages” when dreaming?
Because I’m a scientist by trade, what statistical unbiased angel poll would be complete without asking an atheist? My coworker Mandy is a wonderful person and happens to also be an atheist. We have shared many lively discussions about religion/spirituality, so she was perhaps not too surprised when I asked her if she or anyone she knew had ever had an “angel experience”. Her first reaction was to say “no, can’t say that I have” — a reply I sort of expected. A few minutes later she turned to me and said, “you know, I might have a story that could perhaps be called an angel experience”. She proceeded to tell me about how her grandfather while sitting in his favorite chair, would throw his beloved dog Max a ball. Max would run, chasing it and retuning it back to him (again & again). Nothing odd here, right? The odd part started happening after Mandy’s grandfather died and Max, for no apparent reason, would jump up and start chasing an imaginary ball and bring it back to the chair – repeatedly just like when her grandpa was alive. Was that an angelic encounter? Even Mandy thought it might be. I’ll leave that up to each of you.
Whatever you feel angels are, are not, or may be, we can all agree that the whole topic opens up the door to the mysterious, for you certainly cannot think about or believe in angels without acknowledging mystery.
Earlier I said that angels are thought of as helpful spirit messengers to protect and guide us with Love. I noticed that one theme penetrating all that I have read and heard about angels was that, with each, there was a connection to love. To realize that despite everything, we are loved and that even after death, love never ends; I believe above all else this is what the angels are telling us.
May each of us be blessed to feel that angel love throughout the holidays, this coming New Year and in all your given days ahead… Thank you.