By Margaret Nickel
Originally printed in the March - April 2005 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Nickel, Margaret. "The Angel of Central Park." Quest 93.2 (MARCH - APRIL 2005):50-51
It was a hot day in June and my first trip to New York City. I had gone to celebrate my daughter's twenty-fifth birthday. After a wonderful day of sightseeing and shopping, the highlight of the day was yet to come. We were spending the evening in Central Park listening to a concert given by Luciano Pavarotti
We arrived early as a huge crowd was expected, unpacked our food and drinks and placed our blanket on a slight slope with a good view, but not too close to the stage. Next to us was a family of four adults and some of their friends. Strangely, they knew someone we knew and we made friends instantly. We shared the space and the food, while others began to arrive. Some with chairs, some with more blankets, and slowly a happy little community formed. More people began to arrive and we all introduced ourselves and said where we were from. The weather cooled off, and it was a fabulous summer night. The crowd continued to grow, and soon the ground was covered with a mass of people. As more people came our space began to get a little tight.
Then a man walked up, he was alone. He stood next to a chair at the front corner of our blanket. His expression was placid. He smiled, but did not say a word. I smiled back. He was of average build with a slightly swarthy complexion, and though there was nothing striking about him at the time, he appeared very calm and kind.
The concert was scheduled for eight o'clock, but by seven the crowd had swelled and was getting a little noisy. Soon there were loud conversations and our little community's "personal space" was invaded. So we huddled together as our space began to shrink, little by little. The man didn't move, however, he just stood there at the corner of our quilt. About fifteen minutes before the concert was to begin, an argument broke out. Someone cursed and started throwing things. My daughter and I were anxious by this time, but when I looked over at the man, he just stood in the same place, calm and serene.
It was almost time for the concert to begin when a fight broke out. We struggled with the decision of whether to stay or leave. By this time, our quilt was in a bag and we were standing elbow to elbow with others, some who were pushing and shoving. Suddenly I found myself right next to the man who had come alone. He calmly stood with the benevolent expression still on his face; an "aura" of about eighteen inches surrounded him, so no one pushed or shoved him. We stood beside the stranger listening to Pavarotti for the next three songs and then decided to leave. It was later reported that 350,000 people attended the concert.
I recognized the angel only much later that night, and the realization was immensely powerful. Of all the individuals who gathered in our little "community", he was the one whose name I never asked. He never spoke a word, but just stood with an amazing beneficence and held space for us—keeping us safe. I realized that his face had the countenance I had seen on all the avatars, and I will not forget his presence. He radiated peace. Whoever he was, that night he was the angel in Central Park, protecting me, protecting my daughter, protecting all of us. He is still with me, and his presence is real to this day.
Margaret Nickle is a member of the Memphis branch in Tennessee.
If thou art told that to become Arhan thou hast to cease to love all beings—tell them they lie. (v.123)
On a daily basis, consider your life and how you might add to the well-being of another; think of the beauty and treasures of this earth; explore the deep recesses of your heart for meaning and purpose in the realms of immortality. By doing so, each day you will be increasing the joy, gratitude, and understanding that fills our lives and our planet with living waters.