Storytelling at Work
April 29, 2018
On Being Visited by an Angel

Copy of Arcanum 5.JPG

Full disclosure: I have never been a person who believed in angels. Angels, to me, were merely poetic metaphors, the etheric embodiments of hard-to-describe feelings that some religiously-inclined people experienced when betwixt and between -- some kind of fairy tale mix of loneliness, love, and longing for something beyond what their own two eyes could see. Hovering somewhere between God and the Easter Bunny, angels struck me as nothing more than projections, the astral version of what imaginative children have been inventing for centuries -- "invisible friends."

This all changed for me one unforgettable night in 1974.

I was 27, two years into my first marriage, and all was not right with the world, at least not with my world. To most outside observers, my marriage looked just fine. We were a good-looking couple, had wonderful friends, great jobs in a children's hospital, and the same inspiring spiritual master. We grew lettuce, tomatoes, and watermelons in our garden, but at the same time, we were growing further apart. The honeymoon was over, replaced by a strange brew of second thoughts, boredom, and judgment.

My response to the situation, honed from many past lives as a monk? "Go within," a phrase I now understand was nothing more than my own DaVinci code for denial. My wife's response? Bake more bread. This gave us the appearance of us having a home life -- poor compensation for my not-so-subtle disappearing act.

Having a child, we thought, would fill the hole. And so we tried. But she had cysts on her ovaries and were told it was not in the cards. So we settled into a childless marriage, skirting the edges of our life, and throwing ourselves into our work.

When she called me from LA at the end of a two-week business trip, I could tell by the sound of her voice that everything was just about to change. And so it did. She was having an affair with another man -- someone who truly loved her, she explained, and was extending her trip for another three months.

"What? An affair? But what about us?" I managed to say -- the kind of lines a Hollywood script doctor might read, poolside, and rewrite, ordering a second martini. But she had made up her mind. And that was that. When I put down the phone, I was in shock. Stunned. Numb. Paralyzed. I couldn't move.

Copy of Arcanum 8.jpg

From that moment on, life started getting very strange for me. I'd stare at a wedding picture of the two of us on a wall and it would fall off. I'd have clairvoyant dreams of her lover. But even stranger, I'd find myself crying, in the middle of the day, in my car, for no apparent reason. Simply put, I was falling apart -- a sad, lonely, guilty, depressed, embarrassed, disoriented young man too ashamed and self-loathing to share his private agony with even his best friend.

And so it continued for another three months.

And then, quite suddenly, on the night of the full moon in November, at the end of my ever-shortening rope, I decided to put an end to the madness. I picked up my meditation cushion, my meditation blanket, and a flashlight, exited my apartment, and walked into the forest that bordered my house. There, in a small clearing, I sat down, wrapped my blanket around my shoulders, closed my eyes, and started to meditate. My intention? To sit there, for however long it took, until I was free of the pain.

I'm sure if someone, walking their dog, had passed by, it must have looked like a scene from Siddhartha, but on the inside it was a very different story. On the inside, a war was raging. And the battlefield was littered with the wounded, the dead, and at least a few deserters pretending to be dead so they wouldn't have to die. I just sat there. On that cushion. In the cold, experiencing, for the entire time, not even a second of peace. Nothing but a mind on fire. But I kept sitting. I had to. I had no other choice. There was nowhere else to go. There was nothing else to do. This was it. It had all come down this. Either let go or lose my life. Those were my choices.

And then, with absolutely no warning, no drum roll from beyond, my mind completely stopped. It. Stopped. Just. Like. That. The battle was over. The war ended. I wasn't just sitting in the clearing. I was the clearing. The pain that had ruled me those past few months had completely fallen away. The fever broke. If I had been a snake, my old skin would have fallen off. I, for the first time in what seemed like forever, was free. And so, I simply stood, walked back to my apartment, and went to bed. It was the first good night's sleep I'd had in months.

A few hours later, the phone ringing woke me up. My wife. "Mitchell," she began. "I feel horrible. I am so sorry for what I've done. I want to come home. Will you take me back? Will you forgive me?"

This is not at all what I wanted to hear. Less than six hours into my new life as a free man and now I was being asked to forgive her? Really? Just like that? On the phone? In my pajamas? After I had finally surrendered everything to begin my new life? A long silence followed. And a longer silence after that.

"Yes," I heard myself saying. "Yes, I forgive you. Just get your flight times together and I'll pick you up at the airport."

Three days passed. I drove to the airport. I waited at the end of a long, tiled hallway. I scanned the faces of the many strangers getting off the plane. And then I saw her. She wore something new, a blue dress, and seemed to be happy. I wore something old and wasn't. We hugged, but nobody was home -- two actors in a low-budget movie, the director shaking his head. The ride home? Icy cold, our nervous small talk a desperate attempt to fill the growing silence.

I don't remember what we had for dinner that night. I don't remember her unpacking. All I remember is getting into bed, my only desire to sleep. I laid my head on the pillow and closed my eyes. And then, I don't know why, I opened my eyes and standing in the middle of the room, I saw a radiant being of light -- a glowing, translucent being of light, wings the color of moonlight folded into her sides. She just stood there looking at me. That was it. Just looking at me. And, I had never, in all my life, ever felt so cared for, so calm, and so sheltered from the storm.

"Oh, my God, I see an angel!" And, without a second thought, I fell immediately asleep.

In the morning, when I awoke, thoughts of the angel filled my head. Did this really happen to me? Did I really see an angel? Or was it only a dream? I turned to the woman, still my wife, and asked: "Did I... say something... last night... before I fell asleep?"

"Yes," you said, 'Oh my God I see an angel.'"

The next day, looking for some much-needed inspiration, we made our way to a nearby bookstore -- the spiritual kind. She went left and I went right, feeling totally guided, with no specific goal in mind. I walked to the back of the store, stopped, and looked up. I was standing in front of a section of books devoted entirely to angels. Taking a long, slow breath, I extended my hand and let it rest on the first book it touched. I pulled it out. It was a book by Rudolf Steiner with a very memorable name: On Angels. I opened it randomly and began to read -- a simple explanation of how everyone on planet Earth has a guardian angel, sometimes more than one, and that guardian angels make their appearance to human beings during times of great emotional turmoil for one purpose and one purpose only -- to bring comfort, love, and protection. The time of day these angels make their appearance? The last few seconds before sleep or the first few seconds upon waking -- the times when our analytical, rational mind is most at rest and a kind of portal opens to another realm.

I just stood there, book in hand, shaking, tears of joy streaming down my face.

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: I have told this story to very few people in my life. Ruled by the assumption that I couldn't find the words and, even if I could, my words would only pervert the sacredness of my experience. So I chose to remain silent. But that time has passed. I realize now, as I move closer to the other side myself, that it is not only my duty to report what I have seen, but my great pleasure.

East West 3.jpg

To any reader of mine who thinks that what I saw was self-invented, let me say this -- what I saw that night, in my room, was as real as you are, if not more real. Indeed, if I saw you today and told someone later that I saw you, it is doubtful they would question my seeing you. How had I known it was you I was seeing and not my mind playing tricks? Good question, one we rarely ask. But with the sighting of an angel, questions rule the day. Doubts creep in. But to the person who has seen the angel, nothing is subject to doubt and nothing needs explaining.

Simply put, there's a time in all of our lives when something pierces the veil and we see the unseen. We become witnesses to the beyond. And so, I will leave you with this: Angels exist. I have seen one. One of them visited me in my bedroom at my time of greatest need. It said nothing. It did nothing. It just radiated the presence of love in a way that changed the way I experience life. I received the kind of love that made everything, now and forever, absolutely beautiful, meaningful, sacred, and whole.

What beyond human forces of love have made an appearance in your life? What hard-to-describe moment of divine intervention has touched you in some way? And is there anyone in your life who might benefit from hearing your story?

Excerpted from Storytelling for the Revolution
Art: Asandra Lamb

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at April 29, 2018 03:32 PM


Good story Mitch.
The fine line between reality and the dream. ..I have had many clairaudient messages and other forms of 'other worldly' happenings.. 'The ability to observe without evaluation is the highest form of intelligence" Krishnamurti

Posted by: Tara Liz Driscoll [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2018 06:14 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?


Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

Order the book:

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.