Whatever the current state of organized religion, most Americans still believe in angels—a full 72 percent, in fact, according to a 2016 Gallup poll.
And it’s no wonder. Numerous are the tales of those who have been miraculously rescued from impossible situations, only to speak of mysterious strangers or indescribable beings afterward. These stories inspire us to believe that there might just be something out there that we don’t yet understand, and that it’s looking out for us.
Over two decades ago, author Joan Wester Anderson carefully compiled a collection of stories about people and their experiences with angels, publishing them in her best-selling book, “Where Angels Walk: True Stories of Heavenly Visitors.” Now, she has republished the 25th anniversary edition of her popular title, introducing a new generation of readers to the hope and wonder of angelic intervention.
In her book, Anderson loosely groups brief stories of angelic encounters into themes: car accidents, the bereaved, stories of disguised angels, and stories of angels appearing in full, luminous glory. Each of these tales shares the story of how an angel helped a human being overcome overwhelming—and sometimes deadly—challenges.
But these aren’t merely products of the author’s mind—after Anderson’s young son had a life-saving brush with what can only be described as an angel, she began to run a series of magazine ads soliciting angel stories. This book is composed of the responses Anderson received, and because of this, there is a feeling of authenticity that runs through the work—each story has its own unique voice, and each will inspire or challenge readers in unique ways.
If you’re looking for a lesson in angelology or religious doctrine, this isn’t the book for you—these stories may be about encounters with the divine, but the heart of this collection is a human one. Within the terror, grief, relief, and joy of the people of “Where Angels Walk,” readers will find a message of hope.
James Raffan, one of the individuals whose experiences are chronicled in Anderson’s book, puts it best.
“There were no heavenly hosts openly proclaiming an unfathomable truth,” he says, “but instead, a kind of encouragement to continue.”
Indeed—sometimes a little encouragement that somebody has our back is all we need.
Special to Patheos from Wesley Baines