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GUARDIAN ANGELS ARE GIFTS, HEAVEN SENT

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For every soul, there is a guardian watching it.

-The KoranIt was 1952, and the world was a frightening place for 5-year-old Eileen Freeman. She was afraid of the dark, the TV, the phone, the vacuum cleaner, most foods, and especially, of being separated from her parents.

Most of all, she was terrified by the thought of death. When her kindergarten teacher was killed in a car accident at the end of her first year in school, followed by the death of a pet, and then by her grandmother's death, she panicked. Unable to sleep the third night after her grandmother's funeral, she hid from her fears under the covers, reading by flashlight until her mother intervened.

Sitting in bed cuddling her rag doll, she tried not to let the fear overwhelm her. "The room was dark, except for the small night-light on the hall table, and the dim light coming in through the window over my radiator . . . I was staring across the room, where my doll's crib was, trying not to panic, when I noticed a kind of silvery mist beginning to obscure the sight of the crib. I refocused my eyes nearer and I saw that the silvery light was glowing softly at the foot of my bed. I wish I could describe the light, but I've never been really successful - it was too unearthly. I was soft like pewter, but it glowed from within."

As she watched, a figure began to emerge out of the cloud - a male, humanlike appearance with long, fine hair, an angular face and large, dark eyes, full of compassion. In a voice "like pure crystal" he spoke to her: "Do not be afraid, Eileen. Your grandmother is not in a cold and dark grave. She is happy in heaven with God and her loved ones." When she asked him silently who he was, he replied: "I am your guardian angel. Always remember, there is nothing to be afraid of."

Freeman, author of "Touched By Angels" and editor of the newsletter "AngelWatch," says she has never been afraid since. "There have been many situations that have made me afraid; that's part of our natural makeup and something given us by God to help protect us. But I've never lived with that gnawing anxiety and terror that drags you down and comes from Satan. He wants us to live in fear."

Freeman believes that children "see angels quite frequently. I think it's because adults haven't told them that they can't." Such experiences, she says, are not reserved for any one group of people. Rather, experiences with guardian angels come to people of all belief systems - religious or not - as well as to people of every age, nationality, education and income level. But they come as gifts from God, "when we need them, not when we want them. Angels are responsive to God, not to us."