Monday, September 22, 2003 10:02 AM CDT
The Hands of AngelsBy: Gary De Vaul
The 4-Runner was resting on the passenger side; glass, dirt, rain and blood, its metallic mess. Mark partially hanging by the seatbelt, but mostly supporting himself with his right arm against the passenger door, covered with glass, yet never cut, was conscious and thinking a hundred miles an hour. Odd how when we are in desperate peril, time goes so slowly, or is it that our brain's synaptic powers increase rapidly and conscious thought outruns normal time and space? I'm not sure. But I am sure that it is the Creator's way of helping us to purchase balance and save ourselves while in harm's way. It is one of the angels of our nature implanted in our very genes. But there are other angels...
A voice is heard over the wreckage. "Are you OK? Tell me who you are. No, no, keep talking, I've called the paramedics and they'll be here soon. See if you can turn off the engine. No, no, keep talking - they'll need your help when they arrive. Can you unbuckle the seat belt?" Mark has said time and time again, "I never saw her. I'm almost sure it was a woman standing there in the rain talking to me, but I couldn't see her. She wouldn't let me slip into unconsciousness. I've tried to find out her identity through the police and the paramedics, yet it appears that when they arrived she was gone! She may have saved my life and I want to thank her. It was because she kept me conscious that I was able to turn off the car in order to avert a fire. It was because she kept me awake that I had the sense to thrust my good hand into my shoulder and keep myself from bleeding to death." My son Grant heard Mark tell the story over lunch last Sunday. He said, "Mark, I know who that was, and so do you. It was an angel." Grant is right. It takes one to know one.
Now it's been three days of morphine, it sounds a bit like he's snoring, but more than that. It stops, it starts, it's loud, then gulping, and then gurgling. Paul walks in to say hello and at once recognizes the sounds of approaching death. He's a nurse at another hospital, but he calls for help. Mark is saved again. Angels.
It's the fourth morning. Word has spread quickly throughout the Christian community. One of ours is wounded. A sea of flowers arrives at a hospital not acquainted with this kind of celebrity. The room fills fast. There are no window ledges left, the dressers are covered and soon the whole third floor becomes the beneficiary of flowers sent on angels' wings. The letters, cards and e-mails build day upon day until the hospital cries for mercy and we have to shut down the phones. And how, I ask, do you count the prayers? How many pleas can the prayer waves accommodate?
Oh yeah, this guy is strong. He comes from Norwegian stock. These were the guys that conquered Britain and ruled the seas, discovered the New World, the Vikings of old. And then the doctors say, "Oh, Mark this is good. You are healing well, and very fast". And Mark replies, "By the way, where'd you put my arm? I hope you froze it. We'll need it in order to create a model for the new one." The doctor rolls his eyes in disbelief, stymied by a sense of humor that's fed by prayers and letters and cards and flowers and calls, from angels far and wide. Angels all.
Angels have more than wings you know, they have hands. Hands that cut steel, lift glass, wipe tears, wash bodies, sign checks, write letters, and cut seat belts and save. Angels have hands that heal and pray and stay in the darkness, and call for help in the rain, and steady, and comfort, and watch, until help arrives a second time. All these hands have one redeeming value, one priceless mark of identification. Ask St. Thomas what it is.
Never before has it been so perfectly clear to me that God lives in each of us and us in Him. It is an idea that is too often overlooked, yet it is a major theme in Christian conscious thought. And the Word became flesh. Emmanuel! It doesn't just happen at Christmas when we are marketed into it by hymns and lights and preachers. No, it's not just words on a page, or the opening of St. Johns' Gospel. Theologians have argued, waged wars, fought and died over this idea that the elements of the Eucharist become via "accident" the very body and blood of Christ.
Oh my, what a waste of time. The body of Christ stands behind the altar, it sits in the pew, it responds to calamity and confusion with scared but steady hands. These are the hands of angels and do you know to whom they belong? They belong to you. Oh, don't be afraid to think about it. Your hands have become God's hands. Its called incarnation. It didn't just happen in the Book, it happens every day. Look there! See the scars, the marks of love.
Need more proof? Guess what? Mark's coming home! His shoulder is healed, his heart is mended, his eyes clearer than ever before. He carries in his breast a confidence that shatters obstacles like so much crystal on a marble floor. He woke the other day to tell me that he had arranged the hymn - "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" - for one hand and two feet. He has also rearranged his Toccata on "Hymn to Joy" for one hand! You know what? You're going to hear him play again!
They'll be a day in the near future - you wait and see. I'll be there, you'll be there. He will walk onto the stage, or into the chancel, with one hand - and the organ will thunder and sing as if he had two. Jesus' eyes will fill with tears and you will take out your handkerchief. Angels will jump to their feet in applause and your hands will sting with joy, and someone will turn to you before the finale and whisper, "I can't tell the difference, sounds like he's playing with two hands." And you will turn and say, "He is! The second hand is yours!" Angels all...
Thanks for all your support. Much love from Ogunquit.