Angels and the third man

About twenty years ago a veranda on a house in Wellington collapsed under the weight of a Christmas party and all the revellers were hurled to the ground some way below.

I kept the newspaper clipping of this accident for some years to show my grandchildren. Not for any ghoulish reason, but for the story a pregnant partygoer told. She landed upright, unharmed, unlike the others, many of whom were injured. She said she felt absolutely no fear, because at the split second the veranda began to fall, a great white being held her, and deposited her safely. I wanted my grandchildren to hear from another source than their Grannie, about the reality of angels.

My lovely cleaning lady Rebecca also told me about her encounter with an angel. She was a tiny little thing, and at the time she was working on a fishing boat. It was hard physical labour for a woman trying to keep her end up in tough male society and on this voyage, she developed excruciating toothache, as well as a really bad back. Sitting on her bunk on her six- hour sleep shift, she began to weep from pain and exhaustion. Suddenly a column of light appeared beside her, and she felt enveloped in love and peace. She drifted off into a deep sleep, and when she awoke her toothache and bad back had gone, and she felt strong, happy and revived.

There are many stories of angels, and they always fill me with joy. I find the mysterious story of the extra presence on Shackleton’s expedition, when they were in dire straits very moving. As he and two other exhausted starving team members struggled over glaciers and mountains in South Georgia to get help for everyone else stranded on Elephant Island, having just endured an eight-hundred- mile voyage in an open boat through mountainous seas and hurricanes, they reported that there was always this extra person, and yet when they came to count it, it was never there.

Yet the presence was continually there, sustaining them throughout their dreadful journey, on which the lives of everyone else depended. Shackleton wrote: “during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three.”

TS Eliot alludes to this in ‘The Waste Land.’

‘Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
— But who is that on the other side of you.

This is sometimes called the Third Man Factor, and many survivors of shipwrecks, avalanches, fires, polar expeditions etc, describe it. Scientists and researchers rationalise that this is some sort of projection of the mind to protect us when we are in danger, or at the last gasp of our strength, which is why it happens for so many explorers, mountaineers, and in the case of the last man out alive from the World Trade Centre. That man, Ron Di Francesco described a Being who led him out of the inferno just before it collapsed on 9/11.

But what happened in what I am about to describe was different to the Third Man phenomenon, for I was in no danger, and was being cared for.

I have never seen an angel, but I felt their magic Presence on this occasion. It happened a few years ago, when I came home from a dinner party, deeply upset by the way a group of old friends had ganged up on one very vulnerable person. It was totally unlike them all, but puzzlngly, it had happened. Too churned up to go to bed, I decided to make a cup of tea, but didn’t bother to switch on the kitchen light, since the hall light dimly illuminated the space.

This was my downfall, because in the half light, I poured the boiling water from the kettle over my hand. I stepped back away from the scalding water now running over the bench, and my high heels slipped in the water spilling onto the floor. I fell backwards, pulling the kettle on top of me, thus scalding my stomach as well as both hands.

Almost insane with the pain, with the skin hanging off my fingers, I somehow rang a help-line for advice on what to do, and they sent an ambulance. Morphine and more blessed morphine got me to hospital, and once there, the doctor treating me warned me about the seriousness of the burns, and the likelihood of long-term nerve damage. My arm would be in a sling for three months and I would need long-term treatment and physiotherapy. Then I was wheeled into a side room until someone had time in Emergency to transfer me to a ward.

I lay there for three hours, during which I experienced the most blissful moments of my life. As I felt the company of heaven enveloping me in an un-earthly love, peace, joy, glory, I thanked them ecstatically over and over again for the accident, which had brought me to this place.

When I was wheeled into a ward, I felt quite wild with bliss. Back home the next day, when the nurse called to change the bandages, I knew when she took them off, there would be no wounds, and I was right. The burns were completely healed apart from some sore red patches on my stomach, on which the nurse smeared honey every day for a week, which completed the healing.

The few people I shared this experience with were divided into those who believed it, and those who said it was the effect of the morphine… except that I never needed even an aspirin for pain afterwards, since I had no pain or scars. And when I shattered my leg last year and was in hospital and on morphine for months, I never felt how I had felt that night. The Company of Heaven cannot be explained away.

So now, Christmas is here again, and probably Christmas angels are with us as usual, even though we may not see them, or feel them, or believe in them, and I remember the lovely lines of Francis Thompson:

‘The angels keep their ancient places;

Turn but a stone and start a wing!

‘Tis ye, ’tis your estranged faces,

That miss the many-splendoured thing.’

And though we may not see the many-splendoured thing, we can take comfort if we wish, in knowing that the angels do still keep their ancient places… that ’angels and archangels and all the company of heaven’ in the words of the Anglican prayer book, are not just a fancy, but a truth.

A Happy and a Merry Christmas to all my friends who read this blog.

The picture is by Guercino. An angel in flight, c.1648. Red chalk, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford


Food for threadbare gourmets

We had a little party to celebrate arriving in our forest two years ago… I cooked these little cheese biscuits to nibble, these amounts make about twenty. You need four ounces of butter, eight ounces of finely grated cheese, 3 ounces of plain flour, half teasp English mustard powder, quarter teasp cayenne pepper, and salt.

Cream butter and cheese with a fork, and add flour a tablespoon at a time, then the other ingredients. On a piece of baking parchment roll the mixture into a sausage about one and a half inches in diameter, and chill in the fridge. This can be made in advance and frozen if need be. Before baking, cut the roll into thin pieces the size of a coin, and cook on a baking tray for eight to ten minutes at 190C or 375 F… cool on cake rack. They’re best baked the day you need them.


Food for thought

Loveliness does more than destroy ugliness. A mere touch of it in a room, in a street, even on a door knocker, is a spiritual force. Ask the working-man’s wife, and she will tell you there is a moral effect even in a clean table cloth.

Henry Drummond, Scottish inspirational writer.




Filed under beauty, consciousness, cookery/recipes, life and death, love, spiritual, The Sound of Water, uncategorised, Uncategorized

51 responses to “Angels and the third man

  1. Love this post, Valerie. I believe in God, in angels, and in miracles and I’ve read too many experiences such as you mention to doubt. On a much more prosaic level, I think the angels who work traffic control must have the most work because otherwise, the way people drive, there would be millions more accidents! 🙂 I really like the food for thought, too.

    I’m going to again wish you a most joy-filled and blessed Christmas. I have one Christmas post tomorrow and then I’m taking a break to enjoy having our daughters home, the Christmas season, to sing at the Christmas candlelight service, and just savor the season. First things first.



    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re right about traffic angels
      Janet !!! And I always have a few words with mine about finding a parking space, and the wonderful Being never fails me !!!
      Have a wonderful love-filled Christmas with your daughters, and as I savour the beauties of our Christmas, I’ll think of you in the Northern hemisphere enjoying all those wonderful wintry rituals… happy happy Christmas good friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Valerie, what a beautiful and hopeful post. You describe the Other realms exquisitely, and I love the way you link one story to another. I’m out at my bach on solstice retreat. The broadband is very slow so I don’t normally visit blog posts to comment when I’m out here, but the angels brought me here with unexpected swiftness. I’ve been making my solstice posts on my Facebook page, if you would like to visit:

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your lovely words, Juliet, so good to hear from you… I had been wondering how you were, and you popped up! Hope all is well… I shall look forward to popping over to face book… I go to catchup with my son on facebook, but have never worked out how to leave a comment – just warning you !!!!
      Happy Christmas !


  3. Dear Valerie, I felt a strange peace engulf me as I read your beautiful post.
    I always had a fear of death, but a couple of years ago I found myself in the ICU of our local hospital, unconscious, with doctors telling my husband that it was too soon to know whether I would survive. In that peaceful state of unconsciousness I could have just drifted away peacefully. That wouldn’t have been so terrible; I was free of pain.

    In this beautiful season I wish you love, health and joy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Angela

    ‘Drive with love, drive in grace & you will find a parking place’!! This has been hanging on my car heater knobby thing for years & is battered & faded but never lets me down! Such a beautiful post, thank you Valerie. Have a happy & blessed Christmas & may the angels be with you & your family.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Angela, lovely to hear from you. I loved your little chant, and will be using it myself… perfect !!!
      So glad you enjoyed the post… may you too have a happy Christmas attended by the angels, warm wishes, Valerie


  5. Well, the only way I’ll see angels would be on the happy baccy or the turps, but thank you for your wonderful blog over the year, Valerie, and you have a wonderful Christmas, with the best wishes into the New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, you never know, Mark … there are more things in heaven and earth etc etc, Horatio!!!!
      Thank you for your lovely words about my blog, and for your faithful support over the year… I hope your year of retirement has been as satisfying and fulfilling as you hoped and planned,
      and a happy Christmas to you…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The story of the young pregnant woman gave me a shiver down my spine. It reminded me of my own experience of being taken care of about 6-7 years ago. I had a series of dreams, 3 to be exact. Each one had me in perilous danger and by some miracle, saved from harm in the end. About 4 or 5 months after the last dream I was diagnosed with breast cancer. All through the months of treatment I had the feeling those dreams were telling me I was being ‘looked after’. It was not pleasant or easy, but I knew whatever the outcome that I would be okay. Maybe that is grace, or maybe that was my guardian angel, I don’t know, but I do know it was special. There are many things in life we don’t understand, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen or aren’t real. Thank you for this lovely interlude during this busy season. Have a wonderful time with your loved ones Valerie. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lovely to hear fro you and read your comment, Ardys…those sort of experiences stay with us and comfort us, don’t they…
      and as you say, so much of what happens in life is unexplainable while we are on this plane of existence…
      A very happy Christmas to you Ardys and a happy, healthy and joyful new year..

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Have a Very Happy Christmas Valerie and an exceptional New Year.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • David, Lovely to hear from you… I hope you have a wonderful time with your gorgeous grandchildren and other assorted family members at Christmas, and that your new year is happy and healthy XXXXX


  8. I love these stories of Angels and the way you put them all together. Something special was certainly going on in each of these episodes, something unexplainable and magical. I have always loved the idea of Angels and we once spent a holiday in Paris hunting for, and finding, Angels. I find this a dichotomy in myself as a Humanist but your stories touch something deep.
    The little cheese biscuits sound delicious.
    Lots of love to you for a very Happy Christmas and may the New Year be the best one yet. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sally, Lovely to hear from you… your Paris hunt for angels sounds like a story in itself… very intriguing !
      Yes, no matter how much we may rationalise, life is mysterious and sometimes magical, and so wonderful that it can be !!!
      Much love to you and all your family for a merry Christmas, and best wishes for a happy new year full of Beautiful things !!!


  9. I don’t have any experience of angels but I know I like being in Christchurch because I ‘feel’ or ‘sense’ my departed family members are around me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Valerie,

    I loved this post…and believe the angel occurrences for I’ve had personal experiences. The most memorable was a time I’d gone 24 hours without sleep because of a work project. I had to get my youngest son to work. On the way I dozed for a moment and woke to my son yelling, “Mom!” My eyes opened to oncoming traffic on the narrow road. Suddenly the steering wheel turned sharply to the left under my hands. We missed a collision by moments. I’ve never doubted the presence of an angel in that situation. I know had nothing to do with that wheel steering the car out of harm’s way!

    Congratulations on two years in the forest. May your holiday be cozy, warm and full of love. Hugs to you and himself.



    Liked by 2 people

    • Lovely to hear fro you Rochells, and to hear about your encounter with Something that protected both you and your son… such moments are unforgettable aren’t they…
      Thank you for your holiday wishes… and I hope yours too will be all those things .. we . of course, are sweltering in the heat and keeping cool with a fan, while you need ‘cosy” !!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pacific Paratrooper wishing you all the best, Valerie…


  12. Liz

    What a wonderful story, Valerie, thank you for sharing it. And thank you also for introducing me to Henry Drummond – a quick look at his writings suggests that he is a most interesting person and I am always up for learning about new-to-me Scottish thinkers. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Liz , so glad you enjoyed the story…. and Henry Drummond.
      I have one of his books and find him interesting and inspiring..
      A happy Christmas to you in the cold north… I envy you the snow and the bells and all the other cold winter Christmas things… we are in midsummer, strawberries asparagus, roses and honeysuckle !!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I believe. I truly do believe. Sometimes I even feel the brush of my parents with me…a hand on my shoulder a kiss on my cheek.
    Oh, yes, I believe.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Welcome to Wales

    What a wonderful experience, Valerie. I dont doubt that the Heavenly Realms were with you that night. I, too, have heard many stories and had experiences myself. There’s always a warm, safe feeling – like being wrapped in love and peace. Love and blessings 💛💙💜💚

    Liked by 1 person

    • So lovely to hear from you Isabella Rose… and to know from your comment, and others that so many of us Are in touch with the Heavenly realms… that plane of being which doesn’t seem so far away when it is there whenever we need it !!!
      A happy happy Christmas to you, good friend…

      Liked by 1 person

  15. What I find strange is that these heavenly beings don’t prevent one from getting into these situations in the first place, but help; after you’ve got into them in the second place?
    Maybe the GA, exhausted after saving the Guarded Human from scrape after scrape, takes a brief tea break at the time that scrape is entered into. Then they have to clear up the mess, muttering, ‘Oops, mea culpa.’

    Liked by 1 person

  16. There are angels! In our existence we are finite and feel more comfortable with the certainty that comes with linear thinking. But deep inside us, we all recognize the infinite – we have all felt the hand of the “third person.” As George Sand wrote in her biography: “I’m beginning to believe that there are angels disguised as men who pass themselves off as such and who inhabit the earth for a while to console and life up with them toward heaven the poor, exhausted and saddened souls who were ready to perish here below.” Merry Christmas, my dear friend. Life is a miracle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dearest Rebecca – yes to everything you say, including George Sand’s quote…, I always think of the beings she describes, by their Sanskrit name – Boddhitsatvas..
      .’Yes, life is a mysterious miracle…may you have a happy Christmas and enjoy the company of Christmas angels, with love Valerie

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Merry Christmas, Joyful Yule and Marvelous Midwinter wishes to you, Valerie.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Dear Paula, how lovely to hear from you – hope all is well in your little corner of the world !
    A very merry Christmas and happy healthy New Year to you and yours, Valerie XXX


  19. eremophila

    I was thrilled to find your writing on Angels, and shared it with a friend, who thought it beautiful, and we discussed our own experiences of being kept safe. No doubt that they exist, and I do believe they try to keep us from getting into situations hazardous, but cannot overcome our doggedness. Once we stop to listen and feel, we can choose to follow their suggestions, and also ask when the situation requires it. And give thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a pleasure to read your beautiful words about angels, everything you say is so true…
      and thank you for your kind words about the blog… it’s one of the wonderful things about blogging isn’t it, finding others whose thought and words resonate with yours… so I also give thanks !!!
      A merry Christmas to you

      Liked by 1 person

  20. What an awful accident, I’m so sorry. Although I suppose its level of misfortune is debatable, given the consequences.

    Stories of angelic intervention always strike me as a little unfair. What about the rest of the poor folks on that veranda, cast down with no heavenly host to bear them up? And yet – I also sometimes think – we may have semi-equal rights – in some cases – and yet we are most certainly not all created equal. From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs from the angelic beings, perhaps.

    Given my thoroughly open mind – open enough for the contents to fall out, I forget who once said – it seems a little unfair also that I’ve never had a truly Divine experience. Although I am fairly certain of Divine intervention in at least one situation in my life. Perhaps it’s unbelievers who need indisputable proof the most.

    I love the Drummond quote. Very true indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loved readings this… I know what you mean, and can’t offer any explanation… the randomness of life may make sense when we look back or see it from another perspective… but so much about life seems mysterious and unfathomable to the limited human mind…
      I’ve never regretted the accident which, without that angelic intervention would have been nasty… as it is, with no scars or pain, I just have the amazing memories of those hours in hospital…
      Yes, the Drummond quote is inspiring, isn’t it…
      Have a very merry Christmas – maybe attended by invisible forces for love and good!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Valerie, I loved your story and reading this entire post. Thank you for writing it, thinking of you on the other side of the world this sacred season.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Valorie, thank you, I love to know you’ve visited, and so glad this post meant something to you … A very happy New Year to you, Valerie


  23. Wonderful post, Valerie! I’m an open-minded girl, and these experiences convince me, also through knowing you a little through your posts. This was a sheer delight to read for many reasons and loved the snippet from TS Eliot!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s