I never used to think about angels, despite living in Millbrook’s former St. Andrew’s United Church. But that changed a few Christmases ago, one night as I was closing up shop in the little breastfeeding clothing boutique that I kept in downtown Millbrook, where the Quilter’s Bolt is today.
It was just before closing time when a slight, silver-haired woman swept into the store. She fixed her gaze on me and announced assuredly, “I’ve come to see the angels.”
“Angels?” I repeated. I shared the shop with Jenn Austin-Driver, the photographer, and her cherubic portraits of infants lined the walls. “Have you come to see the baby photos?”
“No, angels,” the woman repeated. “My daughter says you have them.”
I didn’t know what to say. I assumed she was looking for angel decorations for Christmas and had walked into the wrong shop. I suggested politely that she try Bear Essentials or the antique store next door.
By now, the woman was getting frustrated. “You’re a lawyer,” she said, and I nodded. “You live in the church. You design these clothes. They’re for nursing mothers.” This was not a case of mistaken identity: she knew my biography and where she was.
“She says you have angels!” she repeated insistently. There was nothing I could say to satisfy the woman and eventually she left the store looking sorely disappointed.
The incident was still on my mind a few days later, as I was sitting at my desk in the church sanctuary on a conference call with a client. His business deal was falling apart just before the holidays. My client was beside himself, overcome with anxiety. As I listened to him describe the situation, something unbelievable caught my eye. There was a disco ball hanging from the ceiling in preparation for our upcoming New Year’s Eve party. Sometimes it would throw white dots of light around the room. But as my client spoke, the mirror ball was doing something extraordinary. The windows of the sanctuary were each crowned with a different stained glass angel and rather than casting little bits of white light, every piece of mirror was reflecting an angel in perfect detail. Thousands of brightly coloured angels were soaring in circles over my desk and around the sanctuary. I had never seen anything so breathtaking or so reassuring.
I had not found the right words for the woman in my shop, but I would find the right words for my client. “Jim,” I said, “everything is going to be just fine.” Then I described for him what I was seeing.
There was a moment of silence on the call before he spoke again. “Thank you,” he said, notably calmer. “I really needed to hear that.”
Eventually I would leave the church and take up temporary residence in a number of houses around Millbrook before finding a place to settle. At each house, my boys and I would find a small figurine waiting like a welcome gift — among them, a wizard, a Victorian lady and Peter Pan. At one house, the figurine got personal: a mother arm-in-arm with two children. I asked the previous tenant if the figurine was his, or if he knew how it had gotten there. “I dunno,” he shrugged dismissively. “Angels?”
When we moved into our current home, just one thing bothered me. We searched and searched, but found no figurine. Had I gone off course? Was the house not really meant for us? But those worries fled recently when the owner came by for a visit before Christmas. “There’s something I’ve been wanting to give you,” she said, dropping a crate at my feet with a thud. My kids ran over to inspect the box and threw off the lid with excitement. Inside were hundreds of figurines.
Babble by Anita Odessa