Angel Encounters at the Waste Drop-Off Station
My suburban town has a waste drop-off station to which residents can bring items that don’t go in regular trash cans – items including chemicals, corrugated boxes, and certain recyclables. (I’m quite happy to bring them my aluminum and metal cans, which have raw material value as a recyclable, in exchange for them getting rid of all the cardboard boxes I accumulate.) It also has an exchange for moving boxes, where new residents can drop off their flattened boxes, and anyone is welcome to come take some of the moving boxes.
I was party to two very special encounters that happened at this facility.
Several years ago, right after my wife and I had just moved from another state, we were the victims of an ugly incident that left her feeling vulnerable, angry, and in physical pain. I tried to comfort her, although I was also a little shaken. Above all else, my wife felt scared and alone. She knew no one in this new town.
Setting up our new house was still our priority in life, and that Saturday afternoon we loaded up my vehicle with flattened moving boxes to take to the waste drop-off station. After the last of the boxes was deposited, I put my arm on my wife’s back as we walked back to the car. She was listless, with the gravity of sadness pulling at her face.
As we approached my vehicle, a man and a woman whom I guessed to be about 60 years-old approached us. The woman gently put her hand on my wife’s arm and asked, “May we pray for you?”
The man said they could see that my wife was hurting, and hoped that she would allow them to lift her up in prayer. My wife nodded in the affirmative.
The man and woman each put a hand on my wife’s shoulders. Without knowing what the circumstances were that had my wife so visibly distraught, this couple prayed that God would comfort her. They prayed that God would give her strength to tackle the burden she was dealing with. They prayed that she knew the presence of God, and that He was watching over her in this difficult moment.
My wife started crying, and these two total strangers then held her in a loving embrace as she sobbed. Her healing had started at that moment.
Afterwards, my wife and I talked about that encounter, and how if there is such a thing as angels, that must be the form they take.
About a year later, some new neighbors had a stack of empty boxes taking over their garage as they unpacked. I told them I was heading to town for a few errands and I’d be glad to take their boxes to the waste station for them. The offer was accepted, so we broke down the boxes and loaded them in my SUV.
When I arrived at the waste station, I saw an elderly lady holding one flattened moving box and trying to stuff it into the back seat of her little Nissan. It wouldn’t fit. I approached her and joked that it looked like she needed either a bigger car or a smaller box. I offered to fold back the flaps and maybe add a new crease to the box to get it in her car, but she replied that it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
The lady said that she had been told about the moving box exchange, so she stopped by here to check it out, but she needed dozens of moving boxes, not just one. She went on to tell me that she was moving from her house of several decades – the home where she and her late husband had raised their children, all of whom had moved out of state. The time had come to downsize, sell the house, and move close to one of her children.
It was all so overwhelming, she said, and she didn’t even know where to start, but she knew she’d need a lot of boxes for all the items that would be given away or otherwise not packed by the movers.
I pointed at my vehicle stuffed with dozens of flattened moving boxes and suggested that we eliminate the middleman, and I just take my stash of boxes straight to her house. After an obligatory “I hate to burden you” type of objection, she accepted the offer, and I followed her the mile or two to her house.
While I was hauling the boxes into her house and stacking them, she asked me in a more serious tone, “Why were you at the waste drop-off station?”
I replied that I was there to get rid of these boxes.
She followed up, “Why were you there at that exact moment? Why did you approach me?”
“Just timing,” I replied.
“I think you might be an angel,” she said.
“Ma’am, I am most certainly not an angel. You can call and confirm that with my wife!”
When I had all the flattened boxes in the house, I asked her if she had any strapping tape so I could start putting some of the boxes back in upright form for her. She found some tape, and I assembled about a dozen boxes and showed her how easy it was so she could do it too.
Before I left, I gave her a piece of paper with my name and number on it so she could call me if she needed more boxes or any other help with her move.
As I said good-bye she asked “Are you sure you’re not an angel?”
“I can promise you I’m not,” I replied, “but I’m pretty sure they hang out at the waste drop-off station. That’s where my wife and I once met a couple of angels.”
(buck.throckmorton at protonmail dot com)
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