If We Are All Unremarkable Angels

The Remarkables, New Zealand

After a long morning of hiking and getting lost, 
I walked to the pebbled edge of the lake to wash my feet. 
When I looked up, a toddler with a smile of pure 
and fearless joy was running up to me. He stopped 
short, bent down to select a stone, and handed it to me, 
his face full of a hope so bold it was a knowing— 
that I’d think his gift as rich as gems. I smiled back. 
Like he had bowed to choose his gift, I bowed to accept it. 
I held the stone in my open palm to give it proper honor, 
loving not just the gift but how it came after the thought 
to give. He’d approached me empty-handed, found 
what he needed just when he needed it—nothing 
planned or stockpiled, as would be my way. 
I said, Thank you, and put the stone in my pocket. 
He ran back to his father, mother, sister. 
A beauty suffused the whole family. Maybe 
they were angels. Maybe we all take turns playing 
angel. Maybe I did earlier, for another child 
who’d come running down the mountain, crying, 
Can you help me? I’m lost! So we all are, so often. 
And then we’re found—someone appears, leads us 
back up the path or offers us a talisman of praise, 
and once again, we’re good enough for now.