WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Helpers, Teachers, Angels

By Sue Ferguson

“It is impossible to see the angel unless you first have a notion of it.”
—James Hillman

Trust is critical to progress on a spiritual path but it doesn’t come easily for some of us. I learned a little bit about it while I was living in Japan. Returning to Japan from a work trip to the States was often a harrowing, twenty-four hour ordeal, but on this trip I had missed my usual bus ride from Tokyo to my home and needed to take the train. It was almost midnight when I got to mammoth Shinjuku station, and the last train was about to leave.

A bustling train platform, with passengers and lit signs in Japanese and English, at the Shinjuku station.

Navigating a foreign metro train station can be daunting, but this time my fatigue must have given me a deer-in-the-headlights look because as I was gazing at the confusing train board, a man came up to me and asked, in perfect English, where I was going. When I told him that I needed the Odakyu Line he immediately grabbed my rather large suitcase and began heading off into the depths of the station.

Was this a good idea, I wondered. Can I trust him? In my exhaustion, I followed the stranger to the correct train—where he rushed forward without me. I’ve lost my suitcase for sure, I thought to myself, but kept going and realized that he had rushed in order to secure a seat for me and a place for my suitcase on that practically full last train. With a slight bow he backed off the train. That was the last I saw of him.

His act of kindness and compassion left a lasting impression on me. To this day I think of that stranger as an angel effortlessly moving me along the path I needed to follow at a time when I might not have been able to do it for myself. The memory reminds me that if I’m not cultivating an open heart and watching for the helpers, the teachers, and the angels, I may miss them when I need them the most.


Spirit of life, keep my heart open to the help I am offered, and move me to become the angel others may need.

About the Author

Sue Ferguson

Sue Ferguson (she/her) has been a member of Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, CO since 1983. She has served in a variety of lay leadership roles, most recently chairing a successful capital campaign for a new sanctuary....


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