On Being Visited by an Angel
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…