Take a look around you. What do you see? Places and things, and, of course, people.

Look closely at those people.

Whether they’re strangers, family members, or friends, they all have one thing in common: they’re all Angels in- training.

Don’t see that? Look again, with your heart as well as with your eyes.

Yep, we are all Angels in-training walking around in our various disguises and camouflages giving and receiving the opportunity to think and act in a kinder, and more compassionate way, without judgement, or criticism of ourselves or others.

I was once driving down the off-ramp of a local freeway and saw a homeless-looking fellow with a scruffy white beard, dirty jeans, and worn jacket. He was perched on the side of a very busy off-ramp leading onto one of the main arteries of the city, and it was clear that he was looking for donations

Because of his location, few drivers had the opportunity to stop and donate, even if they had wished to. I saw him as I was zooming down the ramp; knowing I couldn’t stop, I sent a silent greeting, “Peace be with you,” to him.  Without missing a beat or a second. He responded mentally in kind: “And also with you.”  I heard it as clearly as if he were sitting in my car with me. My astonished self started to smile, I could feel my heart opening up, and then it came to me:

What a magnificent disguise this Angel in-training was wearing, giving passers-by the chance to think differently about a perceived “vagrant” begging on the side of the road.  I smiled to myself and thanked the universe for that glimpse, and for the experience of love and compassion that accompanied it

As I look back on this experience, it was perfectly clear, to me at least, why this man chose that particularly busy area. Who could stop? No one. What could drivers give while speeding by?  He presented a choice; that of annoyance at this “nuisance,” or the giving of love, gratitude and a smile to a being so willing to serve as a catalyst for human growth.

I am so grateful for that experience; it gave me the opportunity to be less judgmental, and to practice seeing beyond the limits of my physical eyes.

Yesterday, more than two years later, I was again driving down a very busy city street, with buses and cars zooming along to get to their destinations as quickly as possible, and there, stationed along the three-mile stretch were, guess what? Three Angels in-training looking like hopeless homeless people.  As I passed by each one I looked with the eyes of my heart instead of my physical eyes and was compelled to send love and virtual hugs to each of them. And what I received in return was just downright beautiful!  My heart was singing; a smile appeared on my face; I waved my thanks as I drove by.

Angels and Angels in-training have many disguises: an allergy doctor who helps you breathe; a person who appears out of seemingly nowhere on a very remote highway to help you change your flat tire; the person who fed your parking meter while you were away; a helpful store clerk; even a gas station attendant.

I’m convinced that I once met BabaJi, known as “the deathless saint,” at a gas station in Mountain View, California. As I received my change, I spontaneously lowered my head and slightly bowed at the young man behind the counter. I drove wide-eyed the rest of the way home that night, caught in a state of complete awe and wonder.

I’m not Mother Theresa, and I confess that I probably wouldn’t engage on a more physical level with any of these people. However, as I write this, I think back about those people on the side of the road, my heart opens just a little bit more, and I can breathe the joy of knowing that there are Angels and Angels in-training in our midst (including you)!

Love ~ Melinda

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