Watching those God Inc videos always makes me think of that song by Joan Osborne in which she wonders ‘What if God was one of us?‘ I always found that song interesting, because I’ve heard Christians talk about how they met some random person who they believed might have been an angel. One of heavens own workers walking among us to intervene in a situation for whatever holy reason.

Hearing stories like that made me start to look at strangers in a different way. I’m no expert in the employment and deployment of angels, but I sometimes walk past a homeless person begging on the street and think to myself, could that person be an angel? I wonder if that some kind of test, and if so did I just fail?

The problem with that line of thought is that I sometimes feel like I’m a terrible person because here are all these homeless angels and I’m just walking past them saying “sorry” when they ask me for change.

Sometimes I’ll stop when a homeless person asks me for change. I’ll give them a couple of bucks or something and chat with them for a minute or two, secretly trying to figure out if they’re an angel or not, looking for signs like especially bright eyes or an unusually good complexion.

In Portland this last Christmas a young guy asked me if I could spare some change. I stopped to go through my pockets as he explained that he needed to get ten dollars to buy a bus ticket so he could make it home to see his family for Christmas. I looked at him as he went on to say that so far he had got five bucks. Right then the thought came into my mind again. Is this guy actually an angel? I paused for a moment thinking that the bus ticket story was more than likely BS. But then, I though, what’s five bucks really, and it was Christmas.

I handed him a five dollar bill and told him to go get his bus. His eyes lit up and he thanked me excitedly in a way that made me feel like perhaps this time the bus ticket story might just be true.

As we went our separate ways I wondered if I looked back whether he would still be there. Angels have a habit of disappearing, or so I’m told. I didn’t look back though. Maybe he was an angel, or maybe he was just another street kid finding ways to get money from strangers. In truth I didn’t really want to know. I was happy to just believe that as unlikely as it might be, maybe I’d just helped out an angel.

Long hours, little pay
[Video] Joan Osborne “What if God was one of us?”