The song “Swing Low” is currently on the nap and bedtime rotation for me and Cal. Every time I get to the second verse — you know, “…looked over Jordan and what did I see?” — Cal pulls back from our snuggle and looks at me earnestly and says, “Angels?”
It’s happened a good handful of times now, so when he did the exact same thing during my encore breakfast performance today, I had to indulge myself.
You see, angels don’t come up too much in our everyday conversation, so I was intrigued about his connection with the word.
“Do you know about angels?” I asked him.
He replied with a definitive nod.
“What are angels like?”
“They’re loud,” he said, with professorial certainty.
“What else do you know about angels?”
“They fly into the trees.”
I was starting to get a little breathless at this point. I had been pitched into one of those moments that people talk about, when their child tells them about their own birth, or a past life or some otherworldly, spiritual vision.
He swooped his finger up and down, “They fly like this, Momma.” I just sat, quite stunned, watching Cal demonstrate for me the swooshy sound effects and flight patterns of angels.
“They’re loud and they go fffffaaaaaaast.”
I fell right down off of my cloud of dreams with my magical, spiritual oracle baby.
The Blue Angels.
That, of all things, was the reference. When I sing “Swing Low” to my son before bed, he pictures the fighter jets that screamed over his head when he was with his dad and brother at Fleet Week.
I may have been particularly open to the existence of angels since one had recently appeared to my mind’s eye as I was meditating on a dear friend. She was facing a particularly pivotal and much sought after job interview, so I was trying to empty my busy brain of everything but my love and hope for her and blammo. I saw an angel.
I was surprised with the vision, since she’s been after this damn job for years. Y E A R S. I’ve supported her through the whole tumultuous pursuit, littered with false hopes, and crushing rejections. I was ready for this interview to wind up like all the rest. A curt “Thanks but no thanks.”
Well, wouldn’t you know it. This time–The Angel Time–she got it. The long sought after job is hers. She effing did it.
We went on a hike this very morning, right after the conversation that wound up Blue Angels.
As we circled the glassy, golden lake, she confessed that she was up half the night with crushing anxiety. Does she really want it after all? After all this time and toil, is this really the job for her?
One of the scariest thoughts she had on her sleepless night was whether the anxiety is a sign. That there’s something wrong. That her gut is issuing a warning: it’s going to end up one big disaster, and she traded her perfectly good and stable life for a catastrophe. She should have kept her ambition in check and appreciated the good life while she had it.
Before I could even speak, I was laughing it off. Of course it’s not a sign. Just the typical feeling you’d have, being a thinking, breathing, sensitive woman sitting on the verge of huge life change.
But wasn’t I right there with her in spirit, envisioning the routine unions that my 2 year old had with angels, waving bye bye with his doughy hands as they flew off into the trees, loudly, as angels are wont to do?
I find myself desperate at times to find the magical thread tying things together. Ye olde “everything happens for a reason” or “sign from the universe.”
But what if it’s equally comforting, even more so, that regular, old, normal life has its own strange magic:
That a squadron of jets weave their power and might into a timeless, spiritual ballad. (I mean, who wouldn’t want a band of Blue Angels commin’ for to carry them home?)
That anxiety and fear are the body’s way of reminding us that birth is also a kind of death–any transition into a new phase of life means the loss of the way it once was.
That we all get to decide for ourselves if we think angels exist. And how loud, or not, they might be.