I’m thrilled to be home after three days of exploratory appointments and tests at Mayo Clinic. I get to be home for the holiday and return next week. It’s a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility, but what has struck me most is how the whole place is populated with people walking or sitting in pairs — one patient accompanied by one support person. Maybe this is different when COVID isn’t rampant, I’m not sure. But right now, the place is teeming with partners in hope, all there for the same reason. There are pairs of spouses, siblings and friends everywhere you look — huddled together, socially-distanced from everyone else, hoping for insights and solutions to complicated health issues. It’s impossible to know what anyone is suffering from, what questions or worries are weighing on their minds. You just smile at each other beneath your masks, wish them well as you step off an elevator or depart a waiting room. It’s like we’re all living by that famous John Watson quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
It’s a potent reminder of how much suffering there is in our world, how hard being human is sometimes. But for me, it’s also so heartening to think of all the angels at work in a place like this. For every pair of humans shuffling through the hallowed hallways of Mayo, there’s a squad of angels waiting in the wings — ready to open doors, clear paths, inspire doctors, and comfort patients.
I’ve been so touched by all the people who have told me they’re praying for miracles for me. And I wish I had some amazing story of incredible healing to share with you now. But modern-day miracles don’t always (or often) work like that. We humans tend to think of miracles as flash-of-light, overnight changes — more Hollywood-inspired than divinely-inspired. They do happen, of course; some were even featured in Ken Burns’ documentary about the Mayo Clinic. I loved the miraculous story of how Mayo began. After a deadly tornado hit Rochester, Minnesota in 1883, Mother Alfred Moes — the leader of the local Sisters of Saint Francis convent — had a vision from God that instructed her to build a hospital with local doctor Dr. William Mayo as its director. She said the center would become “world renowned for its medical arts.” And we all know how that turned out!
Did that divine vision come out of the blue? Yes — so cool! But was it an overnight success? No. To make that vision a reality, Mother Moes had to trust it, tell others about it, convince Dr. Mayo to help her with it and then spend years gaining support, building the hospital and establishing it as a center of medical excellence that treats everyone from people like me to world leaders. I suspect Mother Moes had plenty of angels at her back, helping to pave the way to make that Godly vision a reality. But it did not happen overnight or with a sudden bolt of lightning. It didn’t happen without her following that initial guidance with passion and faith. Sometimes — a lot of times, actually — miracles are slow and steady, depending on us to be active participants in their manifestation.
Even though I’ve been in cahoots with the angels since I was little, I still forget this sometimes — especially when it comes to my own pain and uncertainty. I want the overnight miracle. I want the aha moment where a doctor suddenly figures out how to fix everything in one fell swoop. I want the Hollywood magic.
But, of course, that is not the trajectory. There are biopsy results we’re waiting on, more appointments to come, new medications to try, answers I don’t always love. Admittedly, I have had some moments when I felt a little down about the slow and uncertain path forward. But my smarty-pants angels urged me not to let unmet expectations serve as evidence that this path is absent of divine intervention or void of miracles. It’s just that I don’t get to decide what the miracle looks like, exactly.
The angels are constantly listening and watching, guiding and organizing — like expert event planners working behind the scenes. It’s up to us to notice the magic they’re making and when it feels like the universe is conspiring in our favor. It could be that someone “coincidentally” knows someone or sends us somewhere that leads us to the solutions we need. It could be that patients make progress the doctors can’t explain. It could be that someone else serves as an earth angel, surprising us with generosity. It could be that schedules inexplicably rearrange, opportunities show up (or intentionally dry up), new information arrives, a sign from above puts us at ease, or a vision we can’t ignore appears before us. So often, the miracles in our lives don’t even look like miracles until we have the chance to look back and connect the dots ourselves.
After our first long day at Mayo last Friday, I was feeling really tired and disappointed we didn’t know much more walking out than we did walking in. As we crept toward the parking ramp ticket booth, I looked up and the numbers on that car’s license plate jumped out at me: 777! It’s pretty rare to see three of the same number on a license plate — and the angels love to use numbers to get our attention. When we see three 7s in a row, it really is a bit like hitting the jackpot, sending the message that we’re on the right path, being guided by our guardian angels, and moving toward success. I felt a whoosh of energy zip through me as I saw those numbers, snapped a picture and thanked my own angels for the earthly reminder to be patient, to have faith, and to trust that miracles are in the works.
I am keeping all of this in mind, and close to my heart, as I continue my journey at Mayo. Before I walk into each appointment, I don’t ask the angels for a flash-of-light-miracle; I ask them to help me be fully present and curious, to inspire the doctors to be compassionate and innovative, and to help coordinate unseen details that will help me feel good.
You can do this, too, no matter what kinds of challenges you’re facing. Even when you feel all alone, the angels want to be your partners in hope — to pair up with you and take on each hardship together. There’s enough magic in the universe for all of us, there are enough angels for everyone, and there are all kinds of ways to collaborate with them. If you want to learn more about how it all works, I’d love to have you join me for ANGELS AT WORK next year. It’s the theme of my Project Light Year 2021 online class and community, and you can register for 30% OFF through Dec 25th (no special code needed). Payment plans and scholarships are also available.
I hope that this season, as unusual and difficult as it may be, you can feel the angels at your back and magic in your midst.