By John De Hoff
Originally printed in the March - April 2005 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: De Hoff, John. "Speculating About Angels." Quest 93.2 (MARCH - APRIL 2005):54
Nearly sixty years ago, the spring of 1945, I was on my way to Paris for a three day leave. About seven o'clock in the morning, eight or ten of us from the 123rd Evacuation Hospital were riding in the back of a deuce and a half, the Army's two-and-a-half-ton truck. One can't easily sleep in transportation like that, especially on the way to Paris for the first time, but we were also not in any serious conversation. All was quiet. Suddenly, with no warning, I heard a voice in the center of my head, a man's voice I'd never heard before. The words were: You are going back to Baltimore. That was all. No introduction, no explication, no conclusion—just that voice and message.
Since then, I've heard of this sort of experience happening to two or maybe three other people. Without warning, and in the same fashion, they described almost identically, "a voice in the center of my head that said . . ."
I have never been satisfied with my attempts to identify, place or understand this voice or its simple message, any more than did the others I spoke with, until I read an article that stressed the importance of angels as messengers. It still left me with more questions than answers: Where do the angels get the messages they carry? Where do they come from? How do they know to whom they should deliver the message? Who sends those messages?
Speaking or writing about angels is fraught with difficulties. Their life form or existence must be as different as the cultural differences that exist in our three-dimensional physical world. And as humans it is as difficult for us to consciously know or comprehend the fourth or fifth dimensions as it would be for two-dimensional people, if they existed, to understand us. But it seems reasonable to consider that our world has other existences, even beings, and in more than three dimensions. The so called spirit world is another dimension, and there may well be even more "beings," who are different expressions of God's incredible Self, working in any of several other dimensions. (Sure, that's guesswork, but what the heck.)
Angels may be among other life forms than the physical in which we are currently embedded. Angels must be purposed differently, perhaps (or probably) existing in dimensions less familiar than our customary three. In another, but similar fashion, we humans share this earth with many different forms of life—animal, vegetable, mineral—each with its multiple "divisions." Perhaps unfortunately, artists have portrayed angels to fit religious concepts, not to replicate their own actual visions of angels, as would a portraitist who faces a living model. Artists give angels human form, even show them with six extremities, possibly to express differences more perceived than observed by either the artist or the ecclesiastic contracting for and consulting on the painting.
Encounters with angels occur under various circumstances. One person reports meeting an angel others may hear an angel's voice, and a third interprets the meeting as hearing a choir of angels. Any human witness may more aptly be said to have sensed the angelic meeting, just as one senses a ball game from a box seat or the bleachers. We say that we saw it or we were there and heard the crowd roar, but it was through our senses that we received the visual or auditory vibrations, and through our nervous system (and brain) that we interpreted or saw or heard. Can it be that we sense the presence and the messages of angels in some fashion other than through our physical senses, our eyes and ears? If so, we might easily misinterpret these contacts as having occurred via the customary ocular or auditory channels, and report that we saw or heard them.
One can guess that angels, therefore, are like the Western Union workers who used to deliver telegrams to businesses, all quite impersonally. They wore olive drab uniforms emblazoned with Western Union, usually rode bicycles from the telegraph office, and were impressive for the nature of their work rather than for their own identity.
Yet angels are so different, their messages so important, that artists set them up as creatures far different, a little holier than us humans. Perhaps they are not so special (just as Western Union boys were simply people dressed in Western Union uniforms), but their messages are more or less special.
Were we to be consciously aware of living with, say, an angelic kingdom, would we then have to consider the existence of bad angels, those more nearly demonic? If angels are correctly conceptualized primarily as messengers, how can we become better or more nearly accurate receivers of their news, their messages? Is this even necessary? Are angels more important than we are in God's work? Given a relationship between us and other beings, how can we in our human dimension relate more effectively to those angels of another dimensional class, if and when communication is warranted? Now I can better understand that what I received on that spring morning in France was probably a message, an angelic one at that.
I had been toying with the idea of moving away from Baltimore after the war was over to practice medicine in Oregon or Washington. Actually, and not in any manner planned at the time of my wartime trip to Paris, I moved to New York City for a residency in psychiatry at the New York Hospital. I soon realized, however, that it was not right for me and moved back to Baltimore.
John DeHoff, a retired physician, is a long-time member of the Theosophical Society. He lives in Maryland.