Charles King of Silver City, NC, had put in a great deal of effort on his education. But now, as he sat in church during a crowded memorial service, his thoughts wandered to his current dilemma.
“I was attempting to fulfill my language requirements for the Ph. D. degree at Duke University,” he said. “The academic requirement included a reading proficiency and comprehension skills in two foreign languages.”
Charles had selected Spanish as his first choice and had successfully completed four academic classes in this language. With much difficulty, he would add. Languages were not his strong suit. But his undergraduate studies were interrupted, and when he graduated several years later, he needed to brush up on his Spanish.
“During this year, while working full-time at a factory, I used nights and weekends to wrestle with the task of refreshing my Spanish reading skill,” he said.
He subscribed to Reader’s Digest in Spanish, re-read the novel Don Quixote and bought Spanish/English flashcards and tapes. At the end of 12 months of intensive study and review, Charles entered graduate school and took the Princeton test of language skills.
After several weeks of anxious waiting, the results of the test arrived. Heart pounding, Charles slit open the envelope and stared at the letter in disbelief. He had failed! How? After all his work? But the test had been graded correctly . What was he going to do?
There was only one answer. If Charles was ever going to earn his Ph. D, he would have to keep on trying. Dejectedly, he signed up for the next available test date, and once again immersed himself in Spanish. Charles passed the test, but his success was bringing him no consolation. As he sat in the crowded but quiet church, he mentally reviewed the hopelessness of his situation.
“I had completed four college courses and a year of intense review only to fail the earlier test on my first language requirement,” he said. “How could I ever expect to learn yet another language, this time without formal study?”
It was at this point, Charles said, that he gazed hopelessly at the ceiling of the church. Suddenly, he saw an angel’s image from the waist up, looking down on him. The vision seemed so clear, as if cast from a slide projector. Then Charles heard a voice.
“I am assigning this angel to be your tutor,” it said.
Charles was stunned. He had never had an experience like this. It was so real, so glorious, bringing him an unexpected sense of peace and assurance. “Moments earlier, my mind had been in turmoil,” Charles said. “Now it seemed my consciousness was transformed from a thought transmitter to a receiver.”
Shortly after the memorial, at the end of May, Charles again started work at the factory, devoting evenings and weekends to learning his new language. But this time he was calm. And it was almost as if a peaceful presence hovered nearby when he studied, enlightening his mind and soothing his worry. When Charles returned to the university in September, he took the Princeton language proficiency exam and passed it on the first try, despite his lack of time to study.
Today, Charles has his doctorate, and sometimes he questions the reality of his experience. Was the angel simply a figment of his imagination?
“Perhaps God comes to us at the level of our personal spiritual development,” Charles said. “I might have fainted at the appearance of a real three-dimensional being. But a message to my imagination, that I could handle.”
Joan’s new book Where Angels Walk
is the 25th Anniversary Edition, available now at Loyola Press.
Joan Wester Anderson has written many books on angels and miracles.
She can be reached at P.O. Box 127, Prospect Heights, IL 60070.