I imagine most people’s image of an angel is a majestic, other-worldly figure with huge white wings – or perhaps the fat baby cherubs of Renaissance art.
My own experience was rather more high tech but no less extraordinary.
It happened one morning, many years ago now, when I was directing a documentary for ITV. The programme was about people who claimed to have had personal encounters with angels – inevitably a challenging subject for a film since our interviewees had no proof of their experience and for visuals we obviously had to rely on paintings and sculptures.
Our first day’s filming was with a woman who I will call Susan. Susan was a committed Buddhist and angels didn’t figure largely in her belief system. At the time her husband was seriously ill with cancer.
One day Susan came home from work and went to look in on her husband who was resting in a downstairs room. To her amazement she saw a huge angel at the head of his bed with its wings wrapped around him. The angel was so real and solid-looking, Susan said, that she apologised profusely for interrupting them and shut the door quickly tp allow them privacy.
In the following weeks she saw the angel several times. One evening though, as she went upstairs to bed, she encountered something rather different – a vision which she described as “wheels of energy.”
“I said to them, ‘Have you come to take him?’” she recalled. “They said, ‘Not if you’re not ready.’ He died later that night.”
After his death Susan began making contact with her own guardian angel through angel workshops and meditation. However on these occasions she experienced her angel not as a winged being but simply as a green light.
While Susan told her extraordinary story on camera, I stood next to the cameraman watching the footage on a small 12-inch monitor. All went smoothly until Susan started talking about her own guardian angel.
Suddenly the picture on my monitor went blank. As she continued to talk, the blank monitor screen morphed into a beautiful multicoloured display of reds and pinks and blues and purples. And when Susan reached the part of her story where she encountered the “green light” guardian angel the entire screen turned a brilliant luminous green. As she ended her story the green slowly disappeared till it was nothing but a tiny dot, then disappeared altogether. The screen went to black.
The cameraman and I watched in amazement, partly thinking that we must have a technical fault and we would have to redo the whole interview. We didn’t say anything to our interviewee but we checked the recorded footage. All was well. Not a green light or a multicoloured screen in sight.
However, I decided to repeat the interview on a differently framed shot to help with editing. Susan told her story again – and, incredibly, the same thing happened. The multicolours and the green light appeared at exactly the same time in the story, and disappeared in the same way at the end. Frustratingly none of this activity, which was witnessed only by me and my normally cynical cameraman, appeared on the recorded footage. If he had not seen it at the same time as me, I would probably have doubted my own experience.
I have thought about that day many times over the years. A number of my colleagues thought I had gone a bit crazy so I was glad the cameraman could back up my story. I am not normally clairvoyant so maybe the angel made use of the technology to aid my understanding. It also felt a bit like a tease, underlining the challenge of trying to document spiritual experience….to film the unfilmable, to explain the inexplicable. In the end we need to leave a space for mystery.
Writer and former Television Director
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