I began my Christmas shopping with a hot chocolate at Moulin Bistro to warm myself and to survey the shopping opportunities. A light rain from the dark winter sky permitted the reflection of colors from the shop windows onto the sidewalk.
Ornaments hung in the window of Tuvalu in glittering rows of red, blue, green, gold and white, creating a stained glass mosaic outside the shop doors. Porcelain wise men, angels, pigs, cows and camels placed my imagination at the Bethlehem manger.
My Christmas spirit now in full bloom, I bought a few ornaments for friends whose personalities fit the images. Dogs for dog lovers, cats for feline junkies, angels for the Catholic devotees and pine trees for the vegans and those with climate change issues.
One ornament in particular caught my attention. Olive green and teardrop shaped, it was imprinted with an angel dressed in a flowing white robe with wings spread wide. I brought it home for my own tree.
I went home and placed my Christmas tree by the living room’s windows facing the ocean. Each gift was wrapped and placed under the tree. Just as rain began to pour on the street below, I turned on the tree lights and rested in my accomplishments.
Raindrops clicked on the skylight and I napped, dreaming of family members and pets who were no longer here to share this season. I turned off the tree lights and headed for bed.
But one light continued to shine on the Christmas tree. It was the angel teardrop I bought earlier in the day. It had no electrical contact.No other lights could be causing a reflection on the angel.
Is my eyesight failing me or is this a mystical moment?
When I looked more closely, I saw the image of a homeless woman rather than an angel on the ornament, and I knew her. She could frequently be seen on the concrete bench outside the Laguna Beach Library, just one block away from Tuvalu.
Am I this woman’s guardian angel?
I met her a year ago on New Year’s Day. She lay on the steep staircase of BC Space Gallery, inebriated and sleeping after discovering a table of leftover snacks and Champagne in the gallery. A broken Champagne bottle lodged in the gallery’s door allowed her to enter.
Last year,I was led to her by a Champagne cork as it bumped and rolled down Forest Avenue. I named it Tinker because of the magical way it led me around corners to the broken Champagne bottle blocking the gallery doorway. Could this cork be the partner of the broken bottle?
“Mona,” I called her by that name because she moaned in her sleep on the gallery steps. “Let’s get something warm to eat and drink.”
Suspicious,Mona had jumped up from the staircase steps, crying, “Leave me alone!” But likely thinking to herself, I can’t pass on a free meal, she agreed to get some food. I took her to Adonis Mediterranean Grill for lunch and I haven’t talked to her since.
This year, I followed the guidance of the angel ornament, went to the library and found Mona sleeping on the cold bench covered in secondhand clothes and blankets.
Whatever connection I had with Mona is magical, whether it was a Champagne cork that brought her into my life or the same mystical spirit that lighted my angel ornament.
I considered all the graces I had received in life. One of these graces was my opportunity to become Mona’s friend and share with her the Christmas spirit.
Ed Clark has lived in Laguna Beach for 38 years and has enjoyed the artistic ambience of the community. Recently, he discovered the Third Street Writers and began writing short fiction.