85 years the friendly old lady would turn today! Now she remembered. She looked up from her calendar. There it was, in black and white: 85. Exclamation mark. Soon she‘d be picked up for her birthday party that old friends organized for her. “Jesus Mary!“ she mumbled, “that‘s pretty steep, 85!“ Then, after a thought break, she said determined to herself, “Giddyup, ole grey mare! Get yourself dressed up nicely!“ Her body obeyed and moved to the bathroom.


On her way there she suddenly, without knowing why, turned to the beautiful Madonna figure with baby Jesus in her arms. In the same moment, the friendly old lady heard the Madonna say, “Yes, go ahead. Pretty yourself up a little bit!“ “Well for sure, Madonna talks to me“, the old lady thought to herself. „Of course I do“, the Madonna figure said, „and you will see I can do a lot more!“ “Can’t wait to see it“, the friendly old lady thought to herself and went into the bath. “So you’re starting to hear voices already“, she said to her reflection in the bathroom mirror.


When the friendly old lady, all tarted up, came out of the bath again, she couldn‘t believe her eyes! There in her comfy leather chair sat a golden luminous figure with a friendly look. The old lady wasn‘t frightened, but she really had to rub her eyes thoroughly.

No indeed, a golden luminous figure sat there on her television chair and looked at her fixedly. “Jesus!“ it flashed through her mind.


„No“, the luminous figure answered pointing to a mighty sword. “The Master never wears weapons. Principally not.“

“So you must be angel Gabriel, right?“ asked the lady, with her jaw dropped. “Yes, my deference.“ He stood up and bowed his head politely, yes even in perfect elegance. The old lady couldn‘t stop wondering.


The next moment she heard herself say, “May I offer you a drink?“ “Yes that would be greatly appreciated“, the angel answered promptly, “a cup of coffee – the one that‘s left in your pot.“


While the friendly old lady infused the coffee into the cup, the question she‘d digged for arose in her mind, “Since when do angels drink coffee?“ it popped out of her. “Oh!“ Gabriel answered and took a delightful sip, „we don‘t have anything against the joys of the earthly existence … we often are interpreted imperfectly in this regard.“ “Oh indeed? Well, I‘m so happy to hear that,“ the friendly old lady stumbled. Simultaneously she noticed her big clock. “Oh God, soon it‘s two o‘clock!“ she said, “I get picked up at two. I‘m really sorry, Sir Gabriel …“ “No problem, most gracious“, Gabriel responded and stood up. Now she could see his mighty wings. “But you have wings!“ the friendly old lady exclaimed.


“Oh that‘s common with us angels“, Gabriel said formally and continued, “Why I‘m here, most gracious, will just take a minute. I‘ve been sent to congratulate you!“ “From whom?“ the friendly old lady asked with surprise. “The Master himself.“ “Lord Jesus?“ “Yes, of course. It was his special order – it was very important to him.“ “Couldn‘t a more unimportant angel than you have told me that?“ “No“, Gabriel answered resolutely, “the Master wanted to make sure his wishes were delivered by someone who can‘t be overlooked.“ His mighty wings opened gently and fanned some air to the old lady who started to break out in sweat. Then he took another delightful sip of his coffee.


The friendly old lady was speechless – she couldn‘t stop gazing at the angel‘s impressive appearance. He seemed to be enchanted by the taste of her simple coffee. “Marvelous“, Gabriel said, “wonderfully aromatic, hot and black. Many thanks for this tasty adventure, most gracious!“ Then he put down the cup, slightly shook out his wings and continued. “So, herewith I deliver you the warmest birthday wishes from heaven and all its inhabitants! Especially from your foregone friends and family. Yes and, as I said, our Boss in person made sure I would bring you this message personally.“


Really touched, the friendly old lady accepted the congratulations. Just when she wanted to thank Gabriel he interrupted her and said, “Of course our congratulations contain the very best heavenly wishes for you, your health and your wellbeing. Only, of course, if you wish so.“

„If I wish what?“ asked the friendly old lady.

“Health and wellbeing“, Gabriel answered.

“Why shouldn‘t I want that?“ it popped out of her.

“Well“, said the angel with a short whiff of sadness, “humans have very peculiar wishes, my dear. Often times they want to die rather than to be happy and simply enjoy this immeasurable Life of ours throughout eternity. They prefer to believe they are abandoned by God and all good spirits. Angels like us do not understand that either! It‘s a long and profoundly unreasonable story.“


„Does this mean that I have to invite health and wellbeing in?“ the friendly old lady asked thoughtfully. “Yes, of course“, the angel responded, “you just have to invite them in, to welcome them. If you don‘t actively want these things, they stay outside of the door of your life. If only humans suspected how much health and wellbeing and joy have to wait and wait and wait outside of their doors, just because they won‘t let them in.“


„But that‘s absurd!“ it bursted out of the friendly old lady, “well … but I have to admit, I also do that from time to time, especially when I feel very lonely.“ When she said that a shiver ran through Gabriel and he looked at her pervasively. Then he said, and it was as if a glorious, long-known but almost forgotten music echoed through his words, “You are never alone, do you understand? Neither you nor anybody else is ever alone. Even if it sometimes appears to be so. Don‘t always trust your eyes only. Nobody is ever alone. We are always here, always around. Every instant. Be certain of that!“


„Well that’s something“, the friendly old lady said after a pause, “that was beautiful, Sir angel!“ And after drying some tears from her cheeks she sniffed, “Another sip of my delicious coffee?“

“Well“, Gabriel said, “if you have time left to cook some new?“ He looked to the telephone. The next moment it rang and the friendly old lady received a message that she‘d get picked up for her birthday party two hours later.


“That‘s wonderful!“ she said on her way to the water boiler and smiled to herself. „Oh, Sir angel, I thought about it. I want it.“ “Want what?“ Gabriel asked. “Health and wellbeing and happiness“, the friendly old lady said, “for me and for everyone else!“


There the angel was all smiles …


The scribe of this story doesn‘t know more about the beautiful conversations between angel Gabriel and the friendly old lady and how much more coffee was drunk. It is reported however that from this first meeting on a profound friendship developed between these two.



© Christoph Engen, translated with Daniela Klampfer, January 2014