Angels of America

The hospital chaplain who sits in the room of a sick child
in Chicago and brings the child to God—not with words
but by her quiet presence.

The Benedictine sister from Bolivia arriving in Michigan
in December. A stranger opening her arms to welcome her.

The father who sends his son to Afghanistan,
and the one who doesn’t.

The soldier killed in Iraq
whose obituary reads “no known family.”

The beautiful Pakistani boy and his family who move in
next door.

The angel who is sitting next to you in church texting a friend;
and the one who isn’t.

The student who completes a thousand forms
so that he can study abroad and still fulfill
the requirements of his nursing major.

The seminary student who comes back to visit
and announces, “I get it—Christianity is about listening.
Really listening.”

The chemist in her lab searching for answers at midnight.

The way we say good-by to someone we will miss,
pray for her safe journey.

The ways we love those we love.

The ways we learn to pray.

The good woman—the good man—who insists
on pouring out the contents of the alabaster jug.

During lean times, the extravagant gesture.

A tired poet in New York
ending a poem with a flourish:
Give my love to, oh, anybody.

Priscilla Atkins works as a librarian at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

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