Robert Kirby is on vacation. This is a reprint of an earlier column.
I'm not sure what I would do if an angel appeared to me. This, of course, assumes that I would know one if I saw it. Maybe I've already seen an angel and just didn't realize it.
Lots of people claim to have seen messengers from heaven. Such otherworldly encounters range from being rescued by an angel or warned by an angel to touched by an angel or even slapped around by one.
Years ago, one of my companions claimed he went on a mission because an angel beat him up. Elder Mutz said he was just about to do something bad one night when an angel appeared and commanded him to stop. Words were exchanged. He got his butt kicked.
This celestial drubbing was interpreted as a life-saving intervention from God, for which if you were 19, male and LDS the only appropriate form of gratitude was to straighten up and go on a mission.
I asked Mutz what the angel looked like. He said it was hard to tell because it was really bright and loud and scary.
When I pressed him to choose whether the angel looked more like David Bowie or Raquel Welch, Mutz got mad and said he was sorry he had shared such a spiritual experience with me.
Good point. Still, I never accused him of making it up. It could have happened. I wasn't there. I had an identical experience before my mission, but it was the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office that appeared.
I've heard about angelic visits from other people. Sometimes it was a relative who appeared as an angel, or a normal-looking stranger, or even some awe-inspiring celestial personage like the angel who appeared to the shepherds at Christ's birth.
Some faiths believe in angels with wings, cherubim, seraphim, albumin, Casey Kasem and the like. Mormons generally go with the idea that angels are actually former human beings with new jobs as messengers.
Depending on the purpose of its visit, a real angel would look like whatever it took to get the point across. If the idea was to comfort you, the angel might look like a grandmother.
However, if said point was mindless Old Testament-style terror, I'm pretty sure God wouldn't send an angel that looked like Big Bird. It would be more like Judge Judy or Oprah.
Angels should never be confused with ghosts. Messengers from the Creator of the Universe are not addled vagrants. They do not lurk about inside mattresses, televisions, pets or outhouses.
Wait. If an angel's job is to deliver a life-changing get-with-the-program message from the other side, then I have seen one.
In fact, I actually held one. It was years ago when my first daughter was born.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.