|This was taken the day I graduated from college. Notice the extraordinary haku lei that Sela made for me. Also, she made the leis around my neck.|
Writing a book about an angel (almost angel) has prompted me to do a lot of thinking about the subject. I suppose it’s only natural that when the topic is discussed, we put most of the focus on heavenly angels. After all, the unknown makes for an intriguing discussion. We often forget, however, that most of the world’s work is accomplished by earthly angels—the ones that walk on two legs and are disguised as everyday, normal human beings.
I was reminded of this last week when my husband Patrick and I got the flu. From the minute our friends and neighbors learned we were sick, we had an outpouring of love and concern. One friend surprised us with homemade chicken soup (just what the doctor ordered), and two others delivered tasty valentine treats. Many offered to make us dinner or to help in any capacity needed. I was humbled and overwhelmed by the simple acts of kindness that meant the world to us.
We’re constantly bombarded with all of the negative events that plague our modern world. The media is in our face 24/7, masterfully repeating the same doomsday tune over and over again until eats away at our resolve and becomes our reality. We start to lose hope and become cynical. Yes, terrible things happen. We do live in a scary world, and we are, at times, fearful for the future. In many ways, it is indeed the worst of times. But it’s also the best of times, for so many wonderful things are happening. Good people are all around us—people who care, people who take time out of their busy schedules to help a friend in need, people who offer a hand of encouragement in that moment when we need it the most.
I met one such angel when we lived in Hawaii. Sela is a humble, soft-spoken woman who has the strength of a dozen armies. I first met her on a Sunday. It’s customary in Hawaii to give leis to those who are leaving the island. This gesture is a symbol of friendship and respect. Being a newcomer to the island (Haole), I didn’t have a lei to give. Rather than going up and giving the family the exquisite lei that Sela had made, she quietly gave it to me instead. Then she motioned for me to go up and present the gift. This seemingly inconsequential event was the start of a lasting friendship. Not only was Sela showing her love for the departing family, but she was also making me feel loved and welcome.
After getting to know Sela better, I came to learn that she has impacted countless others through her quiet acts of service. She’s one of the most courageous women I know, and I feel blessed to call her a friend. Sela is indeed a living and breathing angel. On one occasion, our family got sick with an unknown virus that ravaged through our household like the plague. I seriously thought my youngest son might die from the illness, and it’s the only time I’ve ever passed out cold. We could hardly eat a bite and barely had enough strength to lift our heads off the pillows. As soon as Sela realized we were sick, she came, carrying a large pot of homemade stew. We ate that stew for an entire week and felt as though it was literally nursing us back to health.
As luck would have it, a storm hit the small town of Laie where we lived, causing massive flooding. The flood occurred a couple of days before college graduation. Sela and her family were hit especially hard. Their house was flooded. They lost many of their possessions and had to do extensive repairs. Patrick and I were both graduating from college and were hoping that Sela and her family would be able to come and watch us walk; however, due to their circumstance, we would have understood if they couldn’t make it. Imagine our surprise and delight when Sela showed up, her arms laden with the most beautiful leis we’d ever seen. She’d spent the entire night before, painstakingly making them for us. The very person who was in the direst need was the one who was giving the most. How I love and admire that woman! She taught me so much.
Even though years have passed since then, I can’t write about it without shedding tears of gratitude for this earthly angel who inspires me to be a better person. As long as there are angels like Sela on this earth, then we have cause to hope. We have cause to celebrate the good. I thank God above that we have angels that walk amongst us, giving of themselves and inspiring us to give of ourselves so that somewhere … someday … someone may consider us to be an earthly angel too.