You are sitting where you have never sat before, in a jail cell, handcuffed to the wall.
Panic fills you as tears run down your face, and your voice makes ungodly sounds, from a depth you never knew you had.
You know that you have really done it this time. No excuse, no explanation, no tears, no denial, can get you out of this scrape. This will cost you at least ten thousand dollars, which you do not have. This will probably cost you your job. Your husband will be incensed and your DWI will feed his self-righteousness for a lifetime. You might be heading for a divorce. You are, for sure, heading straight into a storm of shame. No one will ever look at you the same way. Not your kids. Not your friends or co-workers, let alone your mother.
The alcohol was bound to get you. You were warned.
You pray for God to help you, just this once.
A wind stirs the dead air of the jail cell and you feel a strange presence. A voice speaks with an authority that cannot be questioned. “Would you like me to fix this mess?” asks an angel and your sob is the biggest “Yes” you’ve ever given. “I will, with the Lord’s permission, give you this one reprieve, a do-over that will never be offered again. This is your one chance. Do you want to receive this grace now?” You sob another “Yes” and the angel disappears. After a while, the door to your cell quietly opens, you walk out of the police station, no one stops you, not even the cop that arrested you who looks at you now with a quizzical expression and a faint smile. You drive home, walk quickly to your bedroom, lie down in bed, hug your sleeping husband, and stare out the window at the beautiful moon.
You pray to God like you never have before. You saw an angel. You heard an angel. An angel, for God’s sake. You whisper words of thanks and awe and relief amidst the lingering panic and shame and guilt.
Not many people get to see an angel.
But as you lie there you think of all the times your husband or friends warned you about your drinking. “You really should cut down.” “Why don’t you stop drinking for six months?” “You’re starting to pick up more.” “You’re gonna get in trouble.”
You think of the times the little voice inside you warned you.
And then you think of all the mess that would have been avoided, all the pain that never would have taken place, if only you had listened to others or your own quiet wisdom.
And you wonder if the real angels are not the bright ones standing in a jail cell or looming in the sky in the middle east, but the ones, that if you had listened to them, the mess and the misery would never have happened in the first place?
You go to sleep with that most startling question: who are the real angels?