There was no logical reason for Minnie to open the back door at that moment. But as she did, she stumbled onto a horrifying sight. Her granddaughter, then about eight, stood before her a human torch, paralyzed by fright, engulfed in flames. In an instant Minnie took in the scene, realized the answer, threw a coat over the child, and smothered the blaze.
The fire itself had jumped from a candle in a jack-o-lantern. But disaster was averted just in time. As the child later put it, her eyebrows and bangs looked highly irregular for a while, but the burns to her face healed quickly. And neither emotional nor physical scars remain today.
Was it sheer coincidence that the grandmother opened the door at that moment? Some people might say so. Then again, many of us, without Moses-like inquisitiveness and intuitiveness, might pass right by a burning bush and not stop to look and listen and learn why the bush was not consumed.
At times, a kind of spiritual listening comes into play in ways that shift a scene's outcome from tragic to triumphant. In the case of Minnie and her granddaughter, it wasn't a fluke of good fortune that rescued them. The family routinely prayed, approached life as an ongoing proof of the Almighty's care, and truly expected the right intuitions to surface when needed. That was the outlook, the prayer, the expectation that preceded the near-tragedy.
The Biblical term for such divinely imparted intuitions is angels. And they're everywhere. Accompanying Abraham on his way, wrestling with Jacob, inspiring Elizabeth, assuring Joseph, ministering to Jesus, liberating Peter.
These angels come as well-timed messages, as thoughts from God that enlighten our decisionmaking - but not just in relation to neatly defined problems. They steer us from unknown evils, alert us to invisible pitfalls. And in a time when unseen threats seem to proliferate like weeds, that's good news.
The wonderful thing is that a solitary idea from divine Love usually turns out to have company, lots of it. And these angels, like morning light that lifts a million faces in a field of sunflowers, open to us a multitude of answers, safety tips, good preventive moves to make.
Thought buried in materialism misses the light, sees nothing but earth. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy offered a valuable insight into angel messages and how we can best respond. She didn't accept the conventional portrayal of them as feathery, ethereal creatures. "Angels," she wrote, "are God's representatives. These upward-soaring beings never lead towards self, sin, or materiality, but guide to the divine Principle of all good, whither every real individuality, image, or likeness of God, gathers. By giving earnest heed to these spiritual guides they tarry with us, and we entertain 'angels unawares.' " ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 299)
Our role, "giving earnest heed" to spiritual intuitions, comes naturally even if not automatically. Spiritual receptivity improves with practice, alerting us to places of safety prepared by the Almighty.
In the Bible God promises, "Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared" (Ex. 23:20). This promise still stands.
God's angels ever come and go,
All winged with light and love;
They bring us blessings from on high,
They lift our thoughts above,
They whisper God is Love.
O longing hearts that wait on God
Through all the world so wide;
He knows the angels that you need,
And sends them to your side,
To comfort, guard and guide.
Christian Science Hymnal