Angels All Around Us

One of my angels

One of my angels

There is so much pain in this world. There’s personal pain that often takes the form of anxiety, depression, addictions, and intrusive thoughts. There’s the physical pain of illness, injury, and disabilities, both short-term and chronic. There’s relationship pain when we endure conflict with partners, children, friends, colleagues, bosses, and family members. There’s community pain when we witness homelessness, poverty, isolation, and elder and child abuse. And there’s the pain of the world: war, disease, natural disaster, the effects of global warming, and the fact that every day we lose a species of animals. Widening circles of pain, like the ripples released from a stone dropped in water.

Let’s pause here for a moment. If you’re as sensitive as I am, reading a list like this can send you into a moment of despair. We tend to turn our heads from the pain and live in denial. Or we open so fully that we descend into panic. There is another response: we can see the pain and also see the light.

For there can be no doubt that there is tremendous light in this world. There are those moments when our eyes are open and our hearts are touched by the beauty of our world and the goodness of humans. It can be the smallest moment, like witnessing the autumn dance of leaves as they twirl and arabesque from limb to ground, or it can be big moments, like the firefighters and civilians who risk their lives to save others.

For each ripple of pain there is a ripple of joy, perhaps twice so. Do I believe that there is twice as much pain as joy in the world? No. But I believe that the potential is there, the possibility for the light to overcome the darkness. And every time we breathe out our light – our gratitude, joy, and well-being into the world – every time we offer our gifts and every time we’re able to transform our anxiety into creativity or spirituality, every time we say yes to life which means saying yes to the full spectrum of our human experience, we add to the river of light.

One of the ways the light appears is through earthly angels: people, animals, or a connection to the invisible that helped us to feel loved, adored, and worthy as children. I have yet to meet a client who, no matter how much pain they endured as a child – no matter how much they felt unseen, teased, alone, abused, unsafe – didn’t have one source of love. This may have been a teacher, nanny, sibling, grandparent, neighbor, relative, a beloved pet, or a connection to an invisible source of guidance and comfort. It was the being who lit up in your presence, and in their light you could see your own light. It was the one who made you feel safe and guided when everywhere else you felt alone. If you are so blessed, this being may still reside in the realm of the living, but if they have passed to another realm they are still here, reflecting your essence and holding you.

When people are struggling to believe the words of their inner loving parent, I encourage them to connect instead to this other loving source. If your grandmother or aunt or neighbor or dog were sitting beside you, what would they say about this belief you’re carrying that you’re broken or unworthy? We can know intellectually that it’s not true. We can read spiritual texts and conscious works that say we are all intrinsically worthy of love. But the knowing doesn’t happen at the level of the intellect; it happens when we can plug into the direct source of love. That’s what these human and non-human angels provide: the mirror of our worthiness. Your imagination will carry you there. Your breath will invite in the truth and allow you to absorb it into your heart, unearthing the lie of your unworthiness and replacing it with truth of your beauty.

There are so many ways to bring light into the world. I’m in awe of the doctors and nurses who risk their lives to care for those with Ebola or who run into a burning building to save lives, and I’m equally in awe of the neighbors, grandparents, and teachers who reflect back a child’s essence, thereby bringing healing into the world. Who was your angel or angels? Who was your person, animal, or connection to spirit that reflected back your essence and reminded you that, even amidst great pain, there is also great love?

24 comments to Angels All Around Us

  • ColoradoGirl

    This message is timely…as I’ve begun to connect more to my Soul and those feelings of joy that strike me as divine, I’ve started to have this awareness that there are Angels here. In the sense that I believe there are people here who are so well connected to their own Soul and divinity that their messages seem like truth straight from God. Thank you for being one of those Angels, Sheryl!

    • I see it as nothing short of synchronicity – the divine, invisible web that connects us all – that you’re the first to comment as I literally JUST came across your name as I prepare for my next project! The universe never ceases to amaze me and fill me with awe. And it delights me to hear that you’re connecting more to your soul and your joy. Wonderful.

  • BrooklynBride

    Many angels. And reading this I am floored with gratitude. So, I’m sending a prayer up to the heavens for Nicky (my dog) and Cordelia (my college cat); and blessings of love and light to Mrs. Leven (my first grade teacher), the woman who taught me I was a writer in the summer writing course before Junior year of high school; Cindy, my old nanny; Mr. Dunlevey, my HS senior World Religion teacher; and my very first therapist in HS (who also taught my very first psychology class). Thank you for this post Sheryl 🙂

  • Pamela

    In a time when the weather is changing drastically where many of us are, it is so important to remember the joy, childlike and otherwise, that we turned to back then and might still now. The squirrels gathering food for the winter, the crunchy leaves telling us of another transition and humans around us ready to band together and get through a chilled and somewhat dark few months. Remembering back to those simplicities and welcoming new ones in is so…needed. As are you, Sheryl, and all that you do.

    What a beautiful image. A river of light.

  • Lucy

    I’ve always struggled with the “heart knowing” aspect. I’m quite intelligent in the traditional sense, and I’m very empathetic when it comes to other people, but I struggle to connect to myself on a deeper emotional level. This has been an especially hard year for me, as I broke off my engagement in January, moved to a new town, and at almost 33 years old am still trying to accept that my life is nothing like I thought it would be or wanted it to be at this point. I have had several angels in my life but thinking of them now just makes me sad because I’ve lost most of them. I am blessed with a wonderful group of friends and family, and yet I still feel like there is something missing. I wish my life were different, but I don’t know what actually want. I do feel like all of this would start to get better if I could just connect with myself, but I can’t seem to do it. I know there is great love in the world, and I glimpse it now and then, but for the last several months mostly all I’ve felt is the pain.

    • It sounds like you’re in a dark night of the soul, and are being invited to step into your emotional self. The way in is through letting yourself grieve. I have several articles on grieving that may be helpful for you. Most people have defenses against dropping into deep grief, and until you let yourself break open to the deep wells of pain you will likely remain disconnected.

  • Rachel

    I found this post truly wonderful – thank you.

  • beth

    I have been surrounded by a spirit my whole life . they speak to me with numbers and situations. yesterday I faced my adoptive mother who physically abuse me as a child , she denied all of it even though I was removed from the ministry as a kid. She was coming around be cause I have a baby . I told her unless she can acknowledge her actions i don’t trust her with my baby . Things went badly . Then I felt the presence , told me to let go and that I shouldn’t judge it’s not my job there is a judgment when people pass on to the other side. So I’m not I kind a let it go and then everywhere I looked I saw 44 and 944. 944 means to let go of something olds because it’s not going to change and this morning I woke up and the first thing I see is this beautiful write up again my darkness is turn to light and I will continue to step forward and let go of what happened but I will not allow it in my future . Thank You for also being part of my gift from the higher

  • Jane

    This came right on time for me this morning. I was crying about missing my Mama, who we lost 4+ years ago, and the grief still comes in layers as life moves on. This popped into my inbox in the midst of my grief this morning. Sometimes I feel so lost without her. Reading this line this morning sent me into more tears, but they were healing: “If you are so blessed, this being may still reside in the realm of the living, but if they have passed to another realm they are still here, reflecting your essence and holding you.” Thank you for all of your messages Sheryl, as always!!!

  • Rae

    Beautiful, poetic, and inspirational as always, Sheryl!

    I have been sick for more than 3 months with symptoms the doctors can’t figure out. As a good perfectionist, I have tried to do all “the right things” to get better which has contributed to the emotional part of the problem. I seem to keep slipping back into those habitual, unhelpful, judgmental, controlling patterns of trying to fix the problem. You can imagine the roller coaster ride of unsettling feelings.

    An angel in my midst here has been you with your weekly, gentle, wise, and consistent message. If we slow down, use compassion, and explore ourselves/experiences from a place of curiosity rather than control, we will learn. We will open. We will love. We will heal.

    Your words in response to Lucy’s post were exactly what I needed to hear today: that the dark night of the soul is an invitation to step into my emotional self. Allow room for feelings and not just thoughts….and grieve, grieve, grieve. It is not a coincidence in these past months that I have typically felt better after a total sobbing, snot coming out of my nose, wailing, emotional meltdown. Even if I don’t know what I’m grieving half the time, I trust that it is necessary and am hopeful that clarity will come when the time is right.

    • Thank you, as always Rae, for your heartfelt and open comment. There truly is nothing like a good, deep, snotty cry ;). Sending you blessings for healing on all levels. You, too, are an angel for many people; of that I have no doubt.

  • Clara

    This is such an important reminder, Sheryl, and so grounded in reality. I have never been able to be convinced by advice or approaches (there are many of them) that say variations of: the world is beautiful, only joy surrounds you, the pain is in your head, if you’re feeling pain you;re choosing to feel it, think positive and good things will flow… etc. The fact is there IS pain and suffering in life, and there is ALSO love, light, and joy – as you say. The point is not to deny the darkness, but to feel it while also remembering the light. And to orient ourselves towards gratitude for our blessings, rather than towards regret and resentment for our losses.

    This was a long lesson for me to learn… somehow along the way I picked up the belief that a successful life is one that manages to avoid pain… so when things were not going well for me, there was not only the primary pain, but also an additional layer of shame for having failed. Failed at the job of being happy all the time. Failed at the task of creating the perfect life. With your help I came to see where this belief may have come from and to disengage from it just enough to let the light in.

    Thank you Sheryl – you have been a messenger of light for me.

  • onedayatatime

    Sheryl, I know you hear this a lot but this truly touched my heart and had such personal timing for me. My Grandma passed away early Sunday morning only 2 weeks after a diagnosis of cancer. We only found out this past Friday that it was too advanced to be treated and she only had a few days to live. It all went very fast but I know this was better for her, there wasn’t much suffering. She is the first person I have lost who is close to me and I still can’t believe she is gone. It was so hard to watch her, to know she was suffering and I felt so much pain not just for my anticipated loss but for what she was experiencing, how she may have been feeling and for my mom (and the whole family). I could see the pain of loss everywhere, in everything.I read your articles on grief and death a lot, I journaled, I let myself cry, I went and spent time with her during the day while she was staying at my parents and Saturday night, before she passed, I wrote her a letter in bed while I was sobbing (snotty, eyes squeezing shut, balling tears). There was no stopping this pain and it was too much to just drown in it.

    It was trough your articles I was able to shift and see the beauty that did lie in all this pain and loss. The way she brought everyone together, as always. The love she gave to everyone and thus the support she received while in the hospital. The memories and laughs she has given to everyone to cherish and bring light into their lives even if she is not here anymore. The gratitude for her life and existence as it became clear that without her I wouldn’t be alive. Now she is my heavenly angel and she has been my earthly angel all along. She is definitely a guiding light for me and the whole family and a source for my LA because I struggle with the intellect piece and believing my LA.

    I really relate to seeing and feeling the despair in the pain that does exist in this world. I also really relate to knowing and having all this intellectual knowing but not the heart knowing or the heart feelings. This is absolutely something that I need to focus on and your article speaks to me so strongly (and your e-mail).

    Sheryl you are an earthly angel and so is everyone who is part of this community and I am truly grateful for this.

    Unfortunately, I actually had some intrusive thoughts while in the hospital and to the point of anxiety the day she passed even and I was angry at that. My bf has been very kind and supportive, holding me while I cry and when I share my pain and loss he listens and helps me see the love and gratitude in it. But when I saw him Sunday, I felt “off” towards him?. I think essentially my heart was closed to him at the time he probably wanted to open his heart to me the most. I almost felt awkward with him and he is usually someone I can go to with hard feelings. It’s freaked me out actually and I shift to ruminating on this now. I am trying not to judge myself for this but I sense that he senses my distance and I feel overwhelmed with this while everything else is happening. I do know that last night, after crying again I felt more open to him, to feel comfortable with him hugging me and offering his support. But this has kind of taken me by surprise. Do you think this is something that will pass as I let myself grieve and work through the pain? I also don’t want to hurt him when he is opening his heart to me.

    • Clara

      Thank you for sharing this, Onedayatatime. I was deeply moved. As you grieve your beloved grandmother, of course your heart will feel more closed to the love you share with your boyfriend. Go easy on yourself. Grief is a strange and powerful force with many faces and stages, that alters our experience of the world and relationships for a time. As C.S. Lewis wrote in ‘A Grief Observed’: “no one told me it would feel so much like fear…” As your grief resolves, you will start to recognize familiar feelings again. Wishing you stillness, courage and peace in your grieving.

      • onedayatatime

        Thank you Clara and Sheryl for responses, it means a lot. And Clara that quote is interesting as I did notice that when I was sobbing from feeling the loss and pain I realized I had cried like this before yet it wasn’t over the loss of a loved one. It was my own pain, perhaps for all lossesnive already felt, the pain my family before me went through, the pain and loss in the world. It was also very similar to fear.

  • I’m so, so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. I know how much she meant to you and there are simply no words to express the pain of this loss. I’m glad my blog has been helpful in encouraging you to feel the depth of your pain. Crying really is the only medicine to loss – nature’s perfect medicine to help the pain move through you. Sending you a big hug and lots of love –

  • lynne

    Thank you Sheryl for being one of my angels. Your ability to put into words deep emotions and your understanding amazes me. Iv suffered fear and anxiety in all aspects of my life – relationship anxiety (lived with partner for over 20 years but never married) fear of childbirth (no children). After loosing both parents I ad some sort of emotional breakdown n almost left my partner. Over the last few years Iv met many angels – counsellers, self help authors n ur blog. Iv done lots of work healing myself since my night of the dark soul but know Iv lots more to do. Suppressing feelings like Iv done over the years is very damaging – you do a wonderful job informing people its ok to experience bad feelings

  • mac

    ***This may spike anxieties, please do not read this and feel it could reflect your situation. We are all different****

    Sheryl, i have followed your blog, it has helped immensely. I have done two of your courses and i have slowly gained some self confidance. But a week ago my boyfriend left me. He had been acting differently but he had been studying for tests, then sat them, believed he may have failed one. He out of the blue told me he wasnt sure if he wanted to be together anymore, he loved me but was not in love with me. He is very honest and says a week before he had realised but waited a week to make sure. I feel so heart broken because i tried so hard through my relationship anxiety. Now i am confused about how some one can fall out of love in a week. He says he misses me, loves me and is still attracted to me yet doesn’t want to be with me. I guess he could just be being polite. I am torn between looking after myself trying to move on and my loyalty to him, letting him know im here for him if there is something bigger going on. That my heart will wait because it wants to. But i dont know if this is just wrong. He isnt a big talker. I guess if you can i was wondering if you had any guiding thoughts on how to handle these situations. Because my mind is pulling me in two different directions, obviously you dont know which one is right but i feel i am standing in a fog.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like the anxiety may have shifted to him and he may be projecting his own, internal anxiety about his exams onto the relationship. How easy it is to project… You may consider sending him an article or two from my site and/or some of the course information. For now, yes, attend to your own grief. Offer what you can to him but recognize that we can’t force others to do their own inner work. Sending love –

  • mac

    thank you for your response, it is a comfort.