Angels Don’t Need Legs to Fly

Angels Don’t Need Legs to Fly

From A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Angels Don’t Need Legs to Fly

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love . . .

Thornton Wilder

On one of my recent trips to Warsaw, Poland, the tour guide for our group of 30 citizen diplomats from The Human Awareness Institute in San Mateo, California, was shocked when I said we wanted to visit with people. “No more cathedrals and museums,” I said, “We want to meet with people!”

The guide, whose name was Robert, said, “You are pulling my leg. You must not be Americans. Canadians, maybe. Not Americans. Americans don’t want to visit with people. We watch Dynasty and other American TV shows. Americans are not interested in people. So tell me the truth. You are Canadians or maybe English, yes?”

Sad to say, he was not kidding. He was very serious. However, so were we! After a long discussion about “Dynasty” and other TV shows and movies, and admitting that yes, there are many Americans like that but many more who are not, we were able to convince Robert to take us to visit with people.

Robert took us to a convalescent hospital for elderly women. The oldest woman there was over 100 years old, and she was reportedly a former Russian princess. She recited poetry to us in many languages. Although she was not very coherent at times, her grace, charm and beauty shone through and she didn’t want us to leave. But we had to. Accompanied by nurses, doctors, attendants and the hospital administrator, we got to hug, laugh with and hold almost all of the 85 women in that hospital. Some called me “Poppa” and wanted me to hold them. I did, and I cried voluminously as I saw the beauty of their souls in their withered bodies.

However, the major shock of our tour was the last patient we were to visit. She was the youngest woman in the hospital. Olga was 58 years old. For the past eight years, she had sat alone in her room refusing to get out of bed. Because her beloved husband had died, she no longer wanted to live. This woman, who once was a medical doctor, had attempted suicide eight years earlier by throwing herself under a train. The train had cut off both her legs.

As I looked at this decimated woman, who had gone through the gates of hell because of her losses, I was overcome with such grief and compassion that I fell to my knees and started stroking and kissing the stumps of her legs. It was as if I were being compelled by a power much greater than myself. As I was kissing and stroking her, I was speaking to her in English. I only found out later that she did, indeed, understand me. But that was irrelevant because I hardly remembered what I said. It was something about feeling her pain and her loss, and encouraging her to use her experience to help her patients in the future with a greater compassion and empathy than ever before. And that in this time of great transition, her country needed her now more than ever. Just as her country was ravaged and decimated and was now coming back to life, so must she.

I told her that she reminded me of a wounded angel and that the Greek word angel, angelos, means, “messenger of love, servant of God.” I also reminded her that angels don’t need legs to fly. After about 15 minutes or so, everyone in the room started sobbing. As I looked up, Olga was glowing as she called for a wheelchair and started to get out of bed for the first time in eight years.

Stan Dale

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