The first angel I ever met had hairy arms.
In fact she was the hairiest woman I’d ever seen. I was working at a Christian gift store and the first thing I noticed about her was her arm. She’d placed it on the counter in front of me and I looked up from the register to see long thin, black hairs, wrestling for a spot on her skin.
She was no beauty by earthly standards. Interwoven hairs snarled all over her tiny frame. Her eyebrows and mustache followed the same pattern, and her countenance was otherwise plain. But there was something sweet about her, something that told me that she had sunshine buried in her heart. She wore a grey denim jumper and bounced on the balls of her feet as I made small talk and rang up her purchases. Her hair was a long black curtain, sweeping her lower back as she bounced. The woman had a little one with her too, who rested her chin on the counter and stared curiously up at me with big chocolate marble eyes. She seemed to have inherited the woman’s wholesome, bouncy sweetness.
I ripped the receipt from the register and mumbled a perfunctory “have a blessed day,” as I handed the woman’s bag across the counter. She returned the sentiment then suddenly stopped. It was as if the sum of her energy, and all of her bouncing and smiling paused at once to meet at this point. She looked me in my eye and took my hand. Her speech was a fawn stumbling to its feet for the first time.
“God…bless you!” She said slowly and deliberately, squeezing the words into my palm. Her Spanish accent was thick with love. A current ran from her palm to mine. I stepped back and thanked her.
I waited for wings to sprout beneath her curtain of hair, or for her and the little one to walk right up into the sky as they exited the store. They didn’t. They climbed into a Chevy Trailblazer the color of goldfish and drove away as if they were normal human beings.
And then they came back. I was organizing the impulse purchase section and still thinking about her when I saw her sweeping hair leaving for the second time. I said the standard “have a blessed day” that I issued to anyone crossing through our store’s threshold. This time she stopped, turned on the heels of her Keds and waved as if she were sailing away on the Titanic.
“God bless you!” she said zealously, “I love you so much!” Then she was gone. And I stared at the doorway thinking that no man or being had ever touched me that way before. I still think of her years later and wonder who she’s blessing. I wrote in my journal that afternoon that I had met an angel. I can’t begin to reason how I knew she was an angel, but I knew. I knew the second she looked into my face that God was in my midst.
My second and third encounters with angels were a little less remarkable to me. In one instance a woman dressed in a white tunic held my hands firmly and told me that everything I touched would be blessed. We were at church. I had never seen this woman before. I haven’t seen her since. But I felt her words and knew them to be true.
I met the third angel in the belly of the devil, also known as the DC metro system. I was in shambles after a long day at work and crying up a furious storm. A woman with an accent that I couldn’t place approached me asking for assistance.
“This…the blue line?” she pointed toward the empty train tracks. I nodded an awkward confirmation wondering and realizing all at once why she’d approached me. All around us, gray business suits shuffled across the platform, encasing men loosening ties and yelling into their cell phones. They mostly ignored me, minding their own business, stepping around the sobbing mess that I’d become. But this woman stepped closer. She tilted her head.
“Please…” she said, “don’t cry.” I nodded an okay. “Okay? For me, okay?” she bargained.
“Long day,” I said. And I don’t know if she actually understood me.
“Please,” she said again, touching her chest, “Don’t cry. Everything is…” she held her hands up in the air, letting them finish her sentence. “For me,” she said. She nodded, offering a final smile, and stepped back to wait for the train.
Weird. That’s what I would call these experiences. Weird, warm, touching, transformative. These tales lack the whiskey normally associated with sisterhood. They weren’t strong or aged. These were a light, sweet, jasmine lavender blend of encounters. The thing is that, no matter the flavor, sisterhood’s consistency is still the same. Sisterhood gives you the pass to be a blessing, to bypass all the niceties and speak straight to the heart with the strength of whiskey, the comfort of wine, the gentleness of tea. No matter the flavor, sisterhood always says the same things: I’m laughing with you. I’m crying with you. I’m rooting for you. I understand. I hear you. I am you.
This month, on April 22 Gabrielle Hickmon of The Reign XY and I will be exploring the idea of exhuming and exalting in person during our Sisterhood Soiree. Join us as we get past the business card BS and network in a truly genuine, authentic, cozy environment. Exhuming and Exalting will take place at The Capitol Hill Hotel, 200 C Street Southeast, Washington, DC 20003 on April 22 at 7:00pm. Get tickets here!