Life in the Box: Angel Moments


Helping a stranger through an emergency, being their “angel,” is not something most of us encounter every day. But it’s common enough that I wonder how many of us have stories about being there for someone in need.

Have you ever come across a car accident and given first aid? Prevented a fire or injury? Protected a child or animal that was lost?

Many of us have experienced the “angel inside” that comes out in unusual circumstances. Those moments can defy total understanding. Whether you’re on the receiving end or the giving end of angel activities, you know you’ve had a touch of—otherworldly?—non-normal interactions. A step out of the usual. A feeling of connection with a larger reality.

Do you get more from being the angel or being the one who’s been helped by one? I think either experience is profound; it lingers. Some people will come away thinking, I was where I was supposed to be. That’s the good side of extreme experiences. There are other sides, as well.

If you come across an accident too late, or are someone who’s lost family to sudden death or injury, your mind may churn with the “if onlys.” If only they had left an hour later; if only they didn’t have a meeting near the bombed building; if only the hurricane had turned west instead of east; if only you could have arrived sooner. You may suffer the thoughts of how this never should have happened.

With all the extreme natural disasters and shootings this year, thousands of Americans have experienced suddenly being faced with life and death decisions. Ready or not—think fast, move fast, pray fast.  

Their decisions under fire will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Will they have an inner glow from having been able to help someone else survive? Will they be stuck in the horror of being frozen and helpless? Will they thank God for getting away with their children and friends to safety? Will they second-guess every moment of the events that unfolded?

When we are exposed to our core reactions, we feel more than human. Senses are lifted; nerve endings shattered or enlivened. Pain may result after the adrenaline rush ends. But we have entered a different understanding of ourselves, for better or worse. If we are fortunate, an angel will help us. Not only with the event; but also with the long-term aftermath that seems to defy our normal understanding.

Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, narrating and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process and life issues, both inside and outside the box. Her opinions are her own, and are not necessarily those of this web site. 

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