The Comfort of Angels


“Everyone has only one guardian angel and this angel is with them from before their birth until after they die. This angel never ever leaves them, not even for one moment.” —Lorna Byrne, Irish Mystic

I learned about guardian angels as a girl. Having my own heavenly helper is a notion that has comforted me many times over the years. I have never believed in the angelic more strongly then when my grandson Logan arrived. I could feel a presence in the hospital room when I met him for the first time. Nothing that can be proven scientifically, of course. It’s just a knowing that lives in the heart of a grandmother and others who pay attention to such things.

On November 17, 2014, Logan James Shanahan was born into a world full of love. He has fabulous parents and is surrounded by aunties, uncles and grandparents who adore him. He will move through life with the certainty of one who is cherished. Being seen and accepted for who you are is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. And it’s a gift that was bestowed on Logan before he was even born (his in utero kicking was a force to be reckoned with).

Less than 24 hours old, baby Logan with his parent’s Emily and Rob.

“God’s in His heaven—All’s right with the world!” —Robert Browning

I’ve heard other grandparents click their tongues and say, “The way the world is today I  wouldn’t want the task of raising a child. What will it be like twenty years from now? I worry about my grandkids.” That’s one way to look at it. I choose to focus on the good. There is so much of it, you know. Any fear I have over Logan’s future dissipates when I consider all who are watching over him, seen and unseen. Knowing that my grandchildren are cared for is one of the best things about being a grandparent. That keen sense of responsibility I felt at the birth of my own kids is gone. All that’s left for me to do is to love them. Yes, God’s in his heaven and all is right with the world.

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Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.

Hope in the New Year

The pears in the drawing symbolize hope. The mocking bird is not only from Oprah’s favorite book, "To Kill a Mockingbird" but is the official State Bird of Mississippi.

The pears in the drawing symbolize hope. The mocking bird is not only from Oprah’s favorite book, “To Kill a Mockingbird” but is the official State Bird of Mississippi.

“Hope makes the impossible possible.” – Lorna Byrne
In 2001, I drew the above portrait after a gloomy period of questioning my career as an artist. My slow progress made me wonder if what I had envisioned for myself was nothing more than a fantasy. My discouragement dissipated after turning on the Oprah Winfrey Show. I was reminded that any obstacle I faced was minuscule in comparison to what she had been born into. She is black, female and perhaps the worst sin of all, ample in size. Yet none of this has stood in her way of  becoming one of the most influential women in the world. Yes, Oprah’s life clearly shows anything is possible. There is much to hope for.
Born in rural Mississippi to an unwed mother, Oprah was left to be raised by her grandmother, Hattie Mae. Oprah remembers at age four, standing on the back porch churning butter. Her grandmother, called to her as she hung cloths on the line, “Oprah Gail, you better watch me now, ’cause one day you gon’ have to know how to do this for yourself.” But hope had already made a nest in Oprah’s soul. She refused to accept her grandmother’s vision for her future. She knew deep inside her life would be more than hanging clothes on a line.
Growing up, I think the same thing that perched in Oprah’s soul breathed in mine too. Looking back I remember cultivating hope as a kid by saving my drawings for biographers who would one day write about my life as an artist. Then, as a teenager, I wrote to Norman Rockwell for advice on how to become an illustrator. The encouragement in his response confirmed that my dreams where indeed possible. Hope is the tiny spark of light barely seen that pulls us forward. Without its flicker, I never would have taken the initiative to save my art or contact my hero.
2014 is going to be a good year. It’s the year for reaping what we’ve so patiently sown. It’s the year when our long-held dreams will be brought to fruition. No matter where we stand, we can see the glimmer of a better day. How do I know all this? Because 2014 is the year of hope. It’s time to fan that flame.
The painting for a Mother’s Day card I made when I was eight.

A painting for a Mother’s Day card I saved for my biographer when I was eight.

All text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.

Don’t Waste the Miracle

Love Came DownThere’s a spiritual energy that covers the earth during the holiday season. It’s that undefinable “something” that makes people more selfless, more friendly and kind when December rolls around. As a child I learned it was called the Christmas spirit. Wise people tap into it and carry it with them throughout the new year.

We all hunger for a spiritual connection. It’s occurred to me that’s what all the frantic shopping and gift giving are about. Remember when you were little, the exhilaration you felt when you found what Santa left for you under the tree? And as adults there’s nothing better than watching a loved one open the “perfect” gift you’ve bought for them. The presents we buy, are our way of trying to capture the joy we’ve learned to associate with the season. A feeling, I believe, we can get long term by having a relationship with the Divine. During the holidays, we’re given an opportunity to discover or renew that connection. By consciously immersing ourselves in that love, we are transformed. All things become new. We feel the wonder of a child again.

Irish mystic, Lorna Byrne, says special angels visit the earth during the December festivities. They come to join us for the celebrations that happen across all the different beliefs and religions. She sees thousands of angels flying over houses and buildings. Lorna explains, “The angels are dropping balls of light to help us adults reconnect with the joy and innocence we felt as children. After the angels have fulfilled their task they head heavenward and disappear.” For me, this explains the mechanics behind the surge of good will I feel this time of year. I’ve learned the easiest way to connect to that energy field is to simply ask the Creator for help. Then, in the quietness of the now, awe will settle upon you.

This year our family is taking a hiatus from gift giving. With our youngest’s wedding January 4 and our first grandchild due in the spring, we thought the break would take the pressure off of everyone. Happily, the Christmas spirit is still intact and stronger than ever in my husband and me. All of our children and their spouses will be home for the holidays. Who could ask for more?

Love still comes down at Christmas. Grab hold of it. Plug into it….don’t waste the miracle.

Me unwrapping the joy on Christmas morning 1963

Me unwrapping the joy on Christmas morning 1963

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All text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.