I was at work in my office when the phone rang. The caller had a most unusual request. At first, he struggled to find the words to express his need. Finally, he just asked? “Are you the one who writes poetry and books?”
“Yes, I am,” I told him.
“Well, my wife is very ill, and she’s had a vision. I wonder if you’d come out and talk to AnnaBelle, try to get it down on paper for her?” He explained that he didn’t know how much time she had left. She had known I was a writer and had asked him to call me. I assured him I’d be happy to try.
The day was bathed in sunshine-yellow as I drove to their nearby farmhouse. Spring leaves pranced and danced in their early childhood, casting shadows on the rural countryside. The beauty of the morning lifted my spirits as I drove to what I expected to be a difficult task.
I realized that this would probably be AnnaBelle’s last spring, and I hoped she’d be able to enjoy some of it. I had visited the terminally ill before, and somehow it didn’t seem fair that someone’s life should end when earth was budding with newness. As I drove, I speculated on what AnnaBelle’s story would be. Her husband had mentioned angels.
The housekeeper opened the door with a cheerful hello and ushered me into the living room where AnnaBelle was seated in a recliner. I had met her on a few occasions, but didn’t know her well. After our initial greeting, I got down to the topic at hand and asked her about her vision. I was expecting her to tell me that she had seen white-winged angels, but soon learned that God had blessed AnnaBelle with unique visitors of comfort.
AnnaBelle explained that on this particular day her pain was unbearable, but her medicine lay in the kitchen on the table. The housekeeper had stepped out and the men were busy with farm chores. AnnaBelle was alone in the house. She considered getting up and going to get the medicine. But she knew it would be too much for her; she didn’t have the strength. In her torment, she cried out, “If it would be Your will, O’Lord, then help me, for I can’t bear this pain.”
In that moment the veil was lifted between heaven and earth. In front of AnnaBelle stood two visions of loveliness. AnnaBelle knew they had come straight from the heart of God. They weren’t the typical pre-conceived image of angels. Instead, they appeared dressed in ballerina attire, the shades of a glorious sunset.
Captivated, I listened as AnnaBelle continued her story. Their faces were ovals without features. At the time, that fact hadn’t seemed important to her, for the words they spoke were like the Balm of Gilead, soothing her spirit and giving her sweet relief.
“We will help you,” was their simple message of assurance, and in that instance all of her pain was gone. AnnaBelle had briefly glanced away, and when she looked back, the twin angels had disappeared. For the first time in months, AnnaBelle was pain free, and using the age-old clique she quipped, “That night, I slept like a newborn baby.”
AnnaBelle never saw her visitors again, but she often felt their ministering presence. Several months later, one of her granddaughters got married, and she had been well enough to attend. AnnaBelle shared that that when she danced with her husband, she felt her angelic ballerina friends holding her, supporting her, as she glided in his arms.
When I had first entered the room where we sat, I had noticed a beautiful work of art, lighted, and hanging above the fireplace. She guided my eyes to the painting now. Granddaughter Kate, an artist, had managed to capture AnnaBelle’s vision on canvas. “I don’t know how she did it,” AnnaBelle said. “But that is exactly the way they looked. The only difference is Kate’s painting has them turned away from me. When I saw them, they were facing me.” She paused a minute, then continued, “I think God had Kate paint them that way. That’s how they will be turned when they escort me to heaven. The picture gives me such comfort. I love to sit and look at it.” AnnaBelle felt that God had been merciful to her, relieving her pain. But she confided that she often contemplated why dancers, and why two?
Immediately, my thoughts turned to Hannah Hurnard’s book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places. In Hurnard’s delightful allegory, the main character, Much Afraid, begins her journey to the high places. The Shepherd gives her two lifetime companions, Sorrow and Suffering, to accompany her on her journey. At the end of the story, she finds that Sorrow and Suffering had turned into Joy and Peace. I personally think the Lord gave AnnaBelle, Joy and Peace for the end of her journey. I excitedly shared Hannah Hurnard’s allegory with AnnaBelle. I could see her face relax with perfect understanding. I don’t believe it was a coincidence that I was the one they had called to record AnnaBelle’s vision. God knew that I had read Hannah Hurnard’s book and would be able to share the meaning of the vision with AnnaBelle.
I had gone to cheer and comfort, but I was the one who was elated as I drove home. Through AnnaBelle’s eyes, I had glimpsed the threshold of heaven. How blessed I felt to have been allowed to record her vision. In the brief span of time that I had spent with AnnaBelle, I learned that dying is not to be feared; it is to be prepared for, but not feared. Joyfully, I had sat on the edge of my chair as AnnaBelle made her anticipated trip heavenward sound as exciting as packing for a much-awaited vacation. True, she was reluctant to leave her family, but she knew that eventually they would be joining her. She was just going on ahead of them, but she would always be with them in their memories. The decision was not hers to make. God had made the decision, and she would joyfully abide by it.
The appearance of Joy and Peace had spoken volumes about the depth and breadth of God’s love to AnnaBelle, her family, and friends. She had no fear of dying, for God had cast out all fear. God was with her on earth, and He would be with her in her transition. Just as the veil had parted and she had witnessed Joy and Peace’s presence, AnnaBelle knew it would happen again. That would be when she’d glide up the stairs of heaven, escorted by her ballerina angels and into the throne room of God.
My life is sweeter because AnnaBelle shared her vision with me and taught me that dying is just stepping through the veil and into the arms of God. AnnaBelle has gone to heaven now and her funeral was a love story between AnnaBelle and her husband, her family, her friends and above all, her God. She stepped through the veil into heaven in the spring of 2005, and I am confident that Joy and Peace escorted her. In my mind’s eye, I can see her now–dancing with Joy and Peace, glorifying the Lord.