4: The Angel Tree

4: The Angel Tree

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

The Angel Tree

Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

~Richard Purdy Wilbur

“I want you to build a healing center.” I heard the words in my spirit while confined to bed after a major car accident that affected my bones, organs, and brain function—my diagnosis was pages long. My bedroom smelled of liniment, and a jumble of prescription bottles cluttered my nightstand. Scheduled meetings with corporate presidents and business owners who sought my financial advice were replaced with medical appointments.

I was thirty-six years old with a grim prognosis—inoperable, deteriorating. The orthopedic doctor ripped a prescription from his pad and handed it to me saying, “Learn to live with the pain.” My family physician cautioned me against the prescribed codeine. “You’ll be a drug addict.” I tossed the painkillers.

At night, when Edward, my husband of sixteen years, slept, I eased myself to the floor and rolled side to side with the excruciating pain. I knew Jesus Christ worked miracles. I immersed myself in God’s scriptural healing promises.

After three months of inability, I heard, “…build a healing center and from all over the world people will come. Without advertisement, they’ll arrive at your door.” I responded without hesitation, “Yes, Lord.” The improbability never occurred to me. Edward came home and I told him what I’d heard. A man of faith, Edward believed, but where would we build the center? We both feared it might be in a remote place like China.

We asked the Lord in prayer. He said, “Don’t worry.” The land had been set aside for the healing center from the beginning of time, and we couldn’t mess it up. He said we could ask Him when we were ready to know the location. Meanwhile, God assured us that the angels were there, watching over the land. He said that as Edward and I prayed together each night, the land was growing more beautiful and our hearts were growing more beautiful as well.

Weeks passed and we were ready to know. I opened the Bible and read, “Wade across the stream… wade across the stream… it was now a river I could not cross… a river impossible to cross… Do you see son of man?” (Ezekiel 47)

I clearly understood. “Yes, Lord,” I said. “It’s Wading River.” The community of Wading River was about fifteen miles from us, but a world away. We didn’t know much about it. After Edward agreed, I phoned Carol, a crackerjack businesswoman. After my accident, Carol expressed a willingness to help me in any way. Without disclosing anything about our experiences or mentioning a healing center, I asked her to do some footwork regarding land in Wading River.

“Annette, did you know I grew up in Wading River?” she replied. “Did you know years ago I’d bought and sold plots of land in Wading River?”

I didn’t know any of that. Carol said she’d inquire. She called two weeks later after looking at property.

“One piece was across from a cemetery, that won’t do. Another is off the main road, a snow removal problem. There is one property I recommend.”

Edward and I went to see the property. Birdsong filled the air. A black walnut spread its branches over a tangle of tall grass and wild raspberry canes. Grape vines and wisteria climbed the oaks and maples at the perimeter. To the left stood a historic Cape Cod covered with cedar shake with white-trimmed windows. The moment we stepped on the land, the soles of my feet tingled. I squeezed Edward’s arm, and his quick smile told me he felt something special, too.

Robin, the Realtor, directed us, Edward supported me, and we joined her beneath a majestic tree with a girth of six feet and a spreading crown that reached one hundred feet from the ground to the azure sky. The tree was cloaked in a pleasing pattern of pale gray and green. The trunk shed its colored bark in many places, revealing a creamy white underlayer. Drifts of bark lay on the ground and some large exfoliated strips formed tubular curls.

“This house was built in the 1700s for a couple who were getting married,” Robin said. “Friends came from England for the wedding and brought the seeds for this tree. The story goes that England’s cities were ugly in the 1700s.” I nodded agreement. Edward’s firm was based in England and our British friends toasted each other with a line from a 1700s Robert Burns’ poem, “Long may your chimney smoke.” Written during the Industrial Revolution, it referred to the unsightly black coal smoke that stained all the buildings.

Robin warmed to her story. “The angels asked God if they could beautify the city. God asked if they had a plan. They said, ‘Yes! We would like to plant trees throughout London.’ God gave His approval. And in their gratitude, the angels washed the trees every day. That’s why this tree sheds its bark.” She spread her arms in a dramatic flourish saying, “Angels are here watching over the land!”

Our eyes widened. Robin reacted to our strange looks saying, “I’m not crazy! I just heard that story tonight.” What! She had no idea why we were looking at the land. She had heard that story just in time to tell us so we would know this was the place for our house of healing.

Later, I spoke with Carol.

“Annette, let’s look back on that night I went to the Realtor’s office,” she said. “Robin told me there was little available. Another agent walked in. She held a map of land she had just listed. You’ve put a binder on that property.”

We bought the Wading River land. Every week Edward drove us to pray on the property. Sometimes Edward set up a tent and people would gather. Over the years people came from Nigeria, Argentina, Australia, Pakistan, Switzerland, from all over the world to pray on the land. My condition, which doctors said would deteriorate, began to improve. I was no longer bedridden, no longer had seizures. My progress was unnatural; it was supernatural. Edward and I prayed, “Our God shall provide all our needs.” I began to drive again and then to study counseling. After twenty years of prayer, we built the house as our international base for healing.

Today, I hear a splash in the waterfall pool, golden sides of a fish glint in the sunlight. Church bells play “Amazing Grace” on the corner. A breeze catches the sea’s salt fragrance and swirls through Wading River trees that bow and make a sound we call clapping their hands. Each window looks out on exquisite views, but my favorite faces west. Bathed in the setting sun’s rays stands The Angel Tree. Fresh curls of bark pile up on the lawn each day. Because the angels are here, taking care of the land.

~Annette M. Eckart

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