Friday, December 24, 2010

A Good Name for an Angel

"Do you have a name for your guardian angel?" a friend of mine asked me.

It was about fifteen years ago. I was living in Brooklyn and visiting my uncle who lived upstairs in the same house. I had taken my cordless phone with me that evening so as not to miss any calls.  My uncle was in the living room, and when my phone rang, I went to what he called, "the spare room" to take the call.  It was a cozy space which was equipped with a comfortable chair with a lamp next  to it, a traditional mahogany desk, a curio cabinet with various antique pieces, and an old console style television that didn't work but which he kept "as furniture". 

"Mine is Amateus," my friend said.  Chris is a man of faith, but he also has a whimsical sense of humor, and since we were speaking over the phone, I could not see if he had a twinkle in his eye when he said it.  Perhaps sensing that I thought he was speaking in jest, he became serious and explained that when he prayed to know the name of his angel, "Amateus" was the name he heard in his heart.  

I hung up the phone, and with it still in my hand, I sat in the spare room and thought about our conversation.  I thought about The Lord's Prayer and that the Lord chose to address the Father as Abba, the more familiar form of the word "father" in Aramaic, closer to "dear father" or "dad", and that  He taught us, too, to pray, Abba, offering us, His children, a participation in His relationship with the Father. I was convinced that it would not be irreverent if one were to be on a "first name basis" with the one who always beholds the face of the Father (Matthew 18:10), who lights and guards, rules and guides.   

I thought, or perhaps it was a prayer, "I wonder if I should know the name to call my guardian angel."  It was surprising that the name, "Eugene" came to my mind.  I didn't know anyone by that name, but I did like the sound of it, and I thought, that the next time I spoke with Chris, I would tell him that I would call my guardian angel, Eugene.

Suddenly the telephone rang in my hand.  It was an elderly lady friend of mine who lived on Troy Avenue, across the street from Little Flower, the school I had attended as a child and where I was later to teach second grade.  Mrs. Zito was plump and kindly and enjoyed her popularity in the neighborhood, which was well deserved.  Everyday after the 9 AM Mass the regulars (about a dozen people) would come to her home for coffee, cake or bagels.  She called it, "The Little Flower Coffee Shop".  The nuns would bring their Christmas gifts to her, and she would wrap them, as she said, "like the department store."  I knew Mrs. Zito since I was five years old.  She was a volunteer at the supply room of the school, and she liked to remind me that when I was in kindergarten, she sold me my first tie, a navy blue clip-on bow, that was part of the school uniform.  Her husband had passed away, and a few years later she lost her beautiful daughter. My visits and daily phone calls helped, and there were times that she was cheerful. She had a distinctive high-pitched voice which was a dead give-away in confession. Her shrill voice was once heard in church from inside the confessional box, "How ya doin'?", and then, "How did you know it was me, Father?"  She called me "Joanie", never "Joan". 

"Hello," I said.  The unmistakable voice of Mrs. Zito at the other end said, "Is that Eugene?"  I was speechless!  "What?"  She responded, "There must be something wrong with me.  I just called you Jean". "What was I thinking about?  I told her about the phone call a few minutes earlier from Chris, and about naming my guardian angel, Eugene, and the coincidence in her calling me "Jean" and saying, "Is that you, Jean?" which sounded like "Eugene".  I don't think Mrs. Zito was following me because she didn't seem at all impressed and simply said, "That's good."  
I don't know if we will be inspired to know the names of our guardian angels if we ask, and so I don't know if my guardian angel's name really is Eugene.  But I do know that the one who is ever at my side is deserving of my gratitude for always watching over me, even if his name is not Eugene.  If it is, well, as Mrs. Zito said, That's good."

Joan Virzera

No comments:

Post a Comment