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MUSIC OAANGEL

By: Dr. Don Noyes-More Ph.D. 

“If there be for him an angel, one out of a thousand, A mediator, to show him what is right for him and bring the man back to justice,
He will take pity on him and say,
‘Deliver him from going down into the abyss;
I have found him ransom’...” 

Job 34:23 

IT was a chilly summer Monday morning in downtown San

 Francisco. Fog slipped over the building tops casting brooding dark shadows between the high-rises. 6 AM was rather quiet and there were few people on the wet streets. I was walking to my office building when I heard this wonderful gospel music. It sounded like it was coming from the tops of the buildings. “Someone must be playing a stereo,” I thought to myself. The voice played off the buildings, adding echoes and deep tones. “I’ve got to find out where that music is coming from!” I thought to myself. I walked up a block and turned the corner. Leaning up against a rose-colored granite building was an old Black woman. She was wearing sackcloth. It was brown burlap to be exact. She had made a simple pullover dress of it. Her eyes were looking skyward, and she was singing a beautiful gospel tune. From time to time her face would break open in a big smile, and she would wave her hands above her head. The music held me motionlessly in place. The song was beautiful. 

I stood listening for a few minutes, quite taken by this lady’s singing ability. “Poor thing,” I thought to myself. “So much talent but old and homeless!” 

I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my wallet, “Five dollars might be nice. It will help,” I thought to myself. She paused in her music and lowered her eyes directly at me. She smiled as if very contented and comfortable. I walked near her, “Here, this is for you.” I held out my five-dollar bill. Her smile left her face but she held out her thin hand, and took the money. All the while she was staring at me deeply without pause. Then her smile came back and she put the money back into my hand. With her hand and long dark fingers she tightly closed my hand around the money. 

“Don’t you know you can’t pay for God’s love? The love of God is free!“She said smiling. 

I was utterly stunned. I was filled with shame. I couldn’t look her in the face. I stood there head down holding my five dollar bill. I tried to pay for something holy. I was profoundly wrong and ignorant. I thought she had nothing, and that I was a person with something. I realized my poverty and her wealth. Meeting her was also a painful pivot in my life. Things for me would never be the same. She schooled me by putting a mirror up to my face. I learned her lesson, but it took its time. 

I saw Angel twice after that first encounter. Both times she was singing, both times in the quiet of early morning San Francisco. “Hi Angel!” I shouted. She smiled and nodded at me and continued singing, her eyes looking upward, her voice clear and refreshing. 

The second time we met she looked at me, stopped singing and said with joyful bright eyes,“God loves you.(long pause) He told me to tell you.”

I smiled, “Thank you, Angel. Bless you!” I felt something electric shoot through me. 

Angel smiled and nodded at me, “It’s Him that does it!”She turned her eyes upward and softly continued to sing her hymn. 

I stood humbled and quiet on holy ground. Angel’s song was moving within my soul. I stood there for what seemed a long time and finally turned walking away with tears in my eyes, hands shaking. 

Many mornings I searched for Angel between the tall, fog-shrouded buildings, but she had gone. I kept thinking I could hear her songs, and then I’d turn the corner and she was not there, only another cold building. 

I was never to see Angel again. But I know she’ll be there when I’m ready to go home. Until that time her songs are in my heart. 

I believe she was an Angel of God. 

IN CHIAPAS MEXICO 1981
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FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE FOR PEASANTS & NATIVE PEOPLES

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