The Angels Among Us
Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, some have entertained angels.”
Have you ever wondered if you’ve hosted angels? It’s not exactly something we can prove. But sometimes a story unfolds, and with the gift of perspective, we can see how, just maybe, angels have walked beside us, inspiring us, nudging us to live with purpose, and reminding us of all the ways we are connected to one another.
The creation of this year’s Honor Card is one of those stories.
Every year, Roof Above offers a Holiday Honor Card. An artist connected to our mission is chosen to create the card’s artwork. Then generous-hearted people make a gift to Roof Above, letting us know who they’d like to honor, and the honorees receive a beautiful holiday card.
This year’s artwork, a moving sketch of an angel, was created by Lee, who was a tenant in our permanent supportive housing program. Lee loved listening to classic rock music, playing guitar, making jokes and reading the Bible. Art and music helped him cope with memories of a difficult childhood. Lee was experiencing homelessness when he lost his artwork on a city bus. He thought it was a sign that he wasn’t worthy of creating beautiful things, and he stopped drawing.
Lee spent many years on the streets. During that time, he connected with Harper, a Roof Above team member who worked with street outreach. Harper always encouraged Lee and walked many miles with him on his journey to housing. The two connected in a deeper way when Lee was able to move into SECU The Rise on Clanton. Harper had herself moved to serve as a case manager at The Rise. Harper says, “Lee was one of my most special clients. We worked together through all the ups and downs of his time outside, under the bridge, and all his time in housing. It was really a journey.”
Being housed after years of experiencing homelessness can be challenging. Lee often complained to Harper that he didn’t have anything to do. One fall afternoon, during Lee’s daily visit, Harper convinced him to participate in Soul Time and Snacks, an activity led by members of Women | Faith and Story.
That particular day, author and wellness educator Catherine Farley led Lee and a small group in an activity meant to help them discover their natural gifts. Catherine had no idea that Lee was a talented artist who’d stopped creating. As part of the activity, Catherine laid out angel cards created by internationally renowned artist Anne Neilson, who is closely connected to Roof Above’s mission. Each person chose the angel that resonated with them most. Then they turned the card over to find a word. Catherine had them dig deeper into the word with meditation and journaling as a way to think about their natural gifts.
On the back of Lee’s angel card, he found the word grace, along with the scripture from John 1:16: “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” Lee often prayed for grace and decided that grace would be his goal for 2023.
Lee was so inspired that he picked up pencil and paper for the first time in years and drew his own angel. He began to draw again, finding purpose in his days, often using nature as his inspiration. He gifted several pieces, including his angel, to Harper.
When Catherine learned that Lee had remembered his love for art after attending the Soul Time and Snacks session she led, she said, “When you’re living out a soulful purpose, that’s when meaningful connections can really take root.”
Sadly and unexpectedly, Lee passed away at the end of December 2022, just weeks after he had returned to art.
While painting the angel and choosing the accompanying verse, Anne Nielson couldn’t know that this angel would one day inspire a Roof Above tenant to remember his worth and draw again. But thanks to serendipity, coincidence, or divine intervention, that’s exactly what happened.
We are always weaving connections with each other, both seen and unseen, and sometimes, when we’re lucky, we feel an angel tug on one of those threads to reveal the ways we’re all walking each other home.
Lee 2023 Honor Card
If you’d like to give Honor Cards to the angels in your life, please email Pam Corey at email@example.com or visit www.RoofAbove.org/HonorCard