Beauty, Bad News, and Angels

Beauty, Bad News, and Angels May 4, 2021

Beauty of Fall Leaves on maple trees
The beauty of the fall leaves clashed with the bad news we had received. Artwork by Susan E. Brooks

Beauty and Bad News

As the autumn leaves drifted through the crisp, cool air, I drifted into absent-mindedness. Normally, the beauty of the season would have lifted my spirits, but I was struggling with bad news. Cancer had exploded our life again five years after the first diagnosis. The responsibilities of wife, full-time art teacher, mother, and grandmother overwhelmed me, and my husband’s illness crowded my thoughts. I only wanted him to be well. Nothing else mattered much in comparison.

An Eventful Shopping Trip

After school one day, I stopped by the local art store for supplies. Right next to the art store is the Rainbow Blossom health foods store.  With this second diagnosis of cancer, we started seeing a biochemist, along with the regular doctors. He suggested quite a regimen of healthy eating, so I thought I would stop by the store to see what organic foods they had available.

I compared prices for a few minutes and asked myself, “How much is too much to spend on these organic veggies?”  Finally resigned, I took my place in line behind a well-dressed older woman. She paid for her groceries, but then she lingered behind to watch me check out.

“What are you going to do with all that?” she asked sweetly.

I began to explain my husband had cancer and was on a very strict diet.

“Yes,” she said. “I know what you’re going through.”

I got the impression she had first-hand experience with cancer.

“But what are you going to do?” she asked.

Exactly what I had been thinking to myself, but not saying to anyone. What am I going to do? How am I going to handle this?

A Felt-hatted Angel?

But who was this woman and what gave her the right to ask me such a personal question? Yet there was something in her manner so kind and endearing it made me want to open up to her.

“Well,” I answered, “I’m going to pray and trust God to take care of him. That’s all I can do.”

“Yes, that’s all any of us can do; trust God,” she replied slowly, thoughtfully, and with such caring, such sincerity, and the next thing I knew we were hugging, this lovely stranger and I!  There we were, having an intense moment in front of the whole store in the check-out line surrounded by organic veggies.

After that mystifying encounter, I stumbled out of the store thinking, “What in the world just happened? Who was that felt-hatted lady?”

Her words and her gesture toward me touched me in deep, raw places. I felt blessed, but still concerned for my husband. I drove home pondering all these things, and then—

More Bad News

Woah! A car turned in front of me. I tensed up, straining with my muscles as if I could pull the car back and make it stop with the strength of my arms. Couldn’t quite stop in time and I crashed into the back side of the car in front of me. A man jumped out of his car, upset.

“You had a red light!” he fumed.

Quietly, and I think rather meekly, I said, “Did I? Are you okay? I’m so sorry, and I’m so glad you’re okay, and I really couldn’t tell you what color the light was, but I’m so sorry and I have insurance that will pay for it. I was just driving on autopilot.”

Next, I called my husband Martin because the insurance cards had disappeared from the glove box, the license plate sticker had expired and the officer wrote me a citation.

A couple of hours later, exhausted, we arrived at home.  As I was scrounging around in the kitchen throwing together a late supper, I whiffed something foul.  After some investigation, we discovered that Martin’s shoe had found a dog pile which was by this time spread around the house and onto a couple of the throw rugs. Could it get any worse?

Finally sitting down to dinner with Martin, I apologized, “I’m so sorry to add to your stress, Honey!”

“I’m not stressed!” he replied, and we both burst into hysterical laughter.

Beauty in the Mess

My laughter was mixed with tears, but it felt good to laugh and to cry. And as I sat with the love of my life and told him about the angel at the Rainbow Blossom, I began to feel that my crazy, painful, wonderful, stinky, beautiful life story would somehow one day have a happy ending.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2 ESV).

This story took place before the pandemic. Six years later, my husband is again cancer free. And to this day whenever I visit the Rainbow Blossom, I’m watching out for the next angel.


Any encouragement for us or stories of how God has provided encouragement through a stranger? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

I’m an artist who loves to write. If you’d like to get to know me better, please follow me on social media.

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