Tuesday November 7 1995
Believers find hope, comfort in their images
By Denise Barns
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
It lasted only 30 seconds but Ingrid Herrera will never forget that cold
winter night. She remembers she was crying hysterically in her bedroom
when a sliver of shimmering light caught her eye. She turned and standing
before her was an angel, she says.
"He radiated light and warmth, like the
far-reachings rays of the sun," Ms. Herrera says.
Reported visits by angels arent uncommon. Three angels visited Abraham
in the Old Testament to give him the news that his wife, Sharah, would
bear a child. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and, wisemen were visited
by an angel to announce the birth of the child.
"I was looking for spiritual guidance, and asking God what I should
do", Ms. Herrera says about that December night 11 years ago.
Ms. Herrera and about 250 angel aficionados gathered recently at "Angelfare
1995" to share their experiences. The two day conference at the Omni
Shoreham hotel in Northwest featuring lectures by well-known authors,
discussions by artists, workshops and exhibitions.
Ms. Herrera, 29 says her experience was "very special and , for a
long time, very personal". She didnt dare share her angelic
visitation with anyone for many years for fear shed be misunderstood.
Now the wife and mother form Guatemala realizes that shes not alone.
The Arlington resident says her angel visitation was enlightening. She
says shell never forget the house call from Gods messenger
sent to calm her misgivings. "I knew all the answers to my questions
were within my heart," she says softly. At the time she says she
had been grappling with her Catholic upbringings and whether to embrace
the more contemporary New Age religious philosophies as some of her friends
The celestial figure she saw with dark brown locks didnt utter a
word, but, she says, she felt him speak directly to her heart. "What
stood out the most for me was the warm light that radiated from him. Ive
never seen him again, but when ever I get a warm feeling-I know hes
nearby," Ms. Herrera says.
If what the people at Angelfare say is any indication, angels
are turning up everywhere in America. In the late 1980s, polls showed
more than 50 percent of Americans believe in angels. The Renaissance period
was replete with guardian angel paintings and sculptures.
In the 90s angels are flying high enjoying a newfound popularity.
Gift shops and book stores devote sections to the ethereal beings. Other
Angelfare participants, artist Andrew Lakey, Donna Terody, Gary Markowitz
and Sharae Taylor, say they also were touched by angels. They travel from
Hawaii, California and North Carolina to exhibit their heavenly expressions
of the winged seraphims and cherubims.
"When times get tough, people seek spiritual guidance," Ms.
Terody says. She knows. As a little girl, she says she was abused emotionally,
physically and sexually by her father. She says the angels became a part
of her life 28 years ago when she visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York with her grandmother.
"I looked at a (Goya) painting and began to cry. A voice said, Youre
going to become an artist, and no matter what you do, you , must always
paint. Youll become as well known as Picasso, "Ms. Terody remembers.
"Picasso who?" The five year old wondered. From that day on,
Ms. Terody asked for arts supplies as gifts instead of dolls.
"I started painting because it helped me to escape my problems. I
knew painting was my gift from God and nobody could take it from me,"
says 33-year-old artist who paints multicultural angels.
"Peace," one of the paintings displayed at the conference, depicts
a black angel with her eyes cast down looking at doves- the universal
symbol of peace.
"I painted her as a statement of unity." Ms. Terody says.
Angel enthusiasts enjoyed a day of "angelmania" as sounds of
lilting harp strings played in the background. Local angel boutique owners
displayed rosy cheeked cherub T-shirts, angel greeting cards, dolls, fashionable
accessories including, pendants, earrings and pins, and books of angels.
There was even an angelic soap dispenser (squirt, squirt)- a must for
the New Age set of the 90"s.
A little girl accompained by her mother stopped to admire some angelic
wares at one of the numerous booths. Quite unexpectedly she received a
gift from an earth angel.
Andrea Jacobsen gave the cherub faced youngster an angel pendant chain.
The little girls mother says her daughters bedroom is decorated
entirely with angels. Angels inspired Betsy McMahan, 30, to quit her job
at Blue Cross/Blue Shield almost two years ago and open her angel boutique.
She named it Heavens to Bestsy. "Hope," an 8-foot-tall angel
painting, is mounted on a base and stands on the sidewalk in front Ms.
McMahans store in Ellicott City.
"Shes there to remind people that angels do exists," Ms.
The angels also are around to lend a hand when you ask. "The angels
are unemployed and waiting for a call for help from us," she says.
When Ms. McMahan says she considered opening her angel boutique two years
ago she put out an SOS to the angels for advice and guidance. They answered.
During a company meeting Ms. McMahan jotted down on her letter of resignation.
"I knew that I was interested in opening an angel store, but I didnt
know if it was the right time,"Ms. McMahan says.
While driving along on the Baltimore Beltway en route to Ellicott City
to look for shop locations, Ms. McMahan says she received positive confirmation
that her idea to open her boutique was a good one.
"As I was getting off of the beltway I saw a vanity tag that read:ITL
FLY,like It Will Fly, she says.
"Its stressful being an owner of an angel store, but knowing
that Ive touched so many people makes me fell good," she says
before helping another smiling angel enthusiast at her booth.
At the conference there also were well-known authors such as Alma Daniel,
co-author of "Ask Your Angels," and John Ronner, author of "Angels
and Us," to lecture on books about angels.
The gathering of angel lovers was the idea of Cheryl Jones, who lives
in Takoma Park. Ms. Jones, 47 , says she hasnt been visited by an
angel, but wanted to organize the conference for the public to introduce
the heavenly beings to those who may not be familiar with the concept
More importantly, Ms. Jones says she wanted to provide a forum where people
could come and express their angel experiences in a supportive environment-a
place, where they could be at ease.
"Theres an ongoing community of angel enthusiasts and a growing
spiritual emphasis in peoples minds-people are looking for hope,"
"Angel come to the forefront whenever people need hope."
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