72: The Night an Angel Boarded the Train

72: The Night an Angel Boarded the Train

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

The Night an Angel Boarded the Train

God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine.

~David Nicholas

We’d gone to bed worried about our daughter. Only weeks out of college, she had driven cross-country to work in Washington, D.C., and to live alone. This move would put her closer to our home in Pennsylvania but not nearly as close as we’d hoped, and certainly not close enough for us to be there at a moment’s notice. Worse, I never turned on the TV or read a major paper without learning of a frightening story about muggings, murders, and rape. But did my daughter understand what precautions she needed to take as a single woman boarding a late-night bus and then the train? And what about the dimly lit neighborhood she had selected? Not only were there few streetlights in the first place, but many had been shattered by vandals.

“I wish you hadn’t moved to that place,” I’d told her more than once. Yes, her vintage apartment was charming, with its colonial brick, plantation shutters, and the park-like setting, complete with an ambling creek. Tonight, however, I again felt afraid for my daughter. I had shared my fears with my husband for more than an hour — until he just couldn’t discuss it any longer and, after a long day at work, fell asleep. I, on the other hand, continued to toss, fret, and pray.

“I’m worried about my daughter,” I whispered, hoping God heard. “She’ll be closing the store where she works, walking alone from the mall, and waiting for I don’t know how long on a dark corner to board the last bus.” She would then transfer to the Washington Metro. Then, when she finally arrived at her stop, she would cross a street hidden in the shadows of vacant buildings and offices closed for the evening. From there, she would travel three blocks, down broken steps sandwiched between darkened buildings identical to her own. Other young professionals lived nearby, of course, but this late and with most occupants sleeping and nearly every porch and indoor light off?

I tried not to think of the worst that could happen. But Lisa would be darting through a tunnel to shorten the distance, which meant she would be visible to no one — except for some troubling stranger — and what, I wondered, would he be doing at this hour?

“God,” I breathed again, trying without success to dispel my feelings of panic, “please take care of my daughter.”

Repeatedly reshaping my pillow, I’d only just closed my eyes when I heard what seemed to be a whisper: “Pray for an angel for Lisa.” I bolted upright! Because right on the heels of the first message I hadn’t yet processed completely, a second whisper followed: “Pray she does not go through the tunnel.”

A tremble ran through my body. Pray for an angel, and do not go through the tunnel? “Scotty!” I cried, shaking my husband awake. “Scotty!” I pleaded. He needed to hear what I had to tell him. “We need to pray for Lisa,” I cried. We were to pray for an angel, I explained, and Lisa was not to go through that tunnel.

Reaching for my hand, my husband said, “She’ll be okay, babe. She’ll be okay.” Then we bowed our heads. Even though I couldn’t stop shaking, I recalled aloud God’s promises and His love, and told Him we believed Him when he said angels encamped around those who feared him.

We’d only just said our “Amen” when Scotty fell back to sleep — and I listened, my body rigid, to a pendulum marking time in another room.

I was still awake when, only minutes after midnight, the phone rang. Lifting the receiver, I heard my daughter’s winded, “Mom!” I envisioned her running as I heard a second, “Mom!” Followed by, “There was an angel on my train!”

My heart raced and I found it impossible to utter a single word.

“There was no one else waiting to get on at my stop, Mom,” my daughter said. “He was already on the train… only it was the beginning of the line, so I should have been alone!” When she first saw him, she’d been frightened, because where could this person have come from? “But then he looked directly at me, and he had the most beautiful eyes.” I heard my daughter grow calm. “I’d never seen eyes like his before, Mom, and then he started speaking, but it didn’t seem like he could hear.” He must be deaf, she thought at first. “But he wasn’t just a man, Mom,” Lisa said. “I’m serious, he wasn’t!”

I wanted to say something intelligent or, at the very least, ask the questions reeling inside my own head. But I still could not find my voice, and now Lisa was saying the man — “Angel,” she repeated — told her he knew her life had been difficult. He was right; it had been. But all of it was going to become good, he said, so she wasn’t to be afraid.

“Lisa…” I began, trying not to cry but wondering how such a miraculous thing could have happened.

“And, Mom?” My daughter still hadn’t completely caught her breath, but now she was also near tears and nervously laughing. “When I got off the train?” She paused. “You know where,” she said.

I certainly did; it gave me the chills just to think.

“Well, I started toward the tunnel…” Lisa paused again to catch her breath. “Something kept saying, ‘Don’t go through the tunnel. Don’t go through the tunnel.’ ”

Don’t go through the tunnel? And an angel had boarded my daughter’s train? My mouth feeling full of cotton, I told her what I had heard and then about our prayers. I added that we loved her very much. When we were both too exhausted to say another word, I replaced the receiver and shook my head in amazement. Pray for an angel? And don’t go through the tunnel? Had God actually done this, and had an angel really said that? Or had it simply been an incredible coincidence?

Not until several days had passed did I receive what, for me, was my answer. Only then did I wholly understand God had, in fact, sent an angel for my daughter.

My husband had driven to D.C. to attend a national meeting and had purchased a local newspaper for me. On a middle page, I read the story of a rapist who’d been eluding the police for months, but had finally been arrested.

Just a stone’s throw from the tunnel, and only yards from our daughter’s apartment.

~Nancy Hoag

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