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Fall Color Report

Where Angels Walk

by Joan Wester Anderson

A gentle lift from above

When Michael Becker became a quadriplegic after a fall into Lake Michigan, those who knew him were shocked and saddened. But, the 24-year-old had no intention of mourning what he had lost, and quickly learned how to operate his mechanized wheelchair.

"Michael remained more active than many 'regular' people," said his mother, Mary Becker, "whether wheeling around Chicago or riding trains or buses, even occasionally boarding a boat for sailing lessons."

Mary worried about him, of course, but she kept her fears to herself. Michael needed to be as independent as possible, she knew, no matter how that made her feel.

Buckingham Fountain, in the heart of the city, was one of Michael's favorite stops, usually during the week. He enjoyed the frequent fireworks displays and the family environment. So, as the July 4th holiday approached, he decided to spend it there. He couldn't have anticipated the huge crowds that already packed the park by the time he arrived. It seemed as if the entire Chicago population was there, along with noise, chaos and fights beginning to break out. This was no place for him, Michael decided; he was far too vulnerable alone in his wheelchair.

He began to turn around, and suddenly a commotion erupted just a few yards from him. A fight? Gunshots? People began to scream. Again, Michael attempted to turn, but there was no room to do so. Hundreds of people were running toward him now, a human stampede that could crush him in minutes. His wheelchair began to tip, right into the path of the mob. It was the end, he thought.

Then, somehow, Michael felt his chair move, not to the side, but up! A few seconds later, it came down again, almost floating away from the still out-of-control crowd. He was safe. But how?

Gradually the stampede died down and Michael was able to leave the park. Along the way, as he saw the debris, the broken glass and overturned picnic tables, Michael had a chance to think. It would have been impossible for someone to lift the combined weight of him and his chair from that angle. He hadn't seen anyone near him anyway. And yet, he had been removed from harm's way in a specific, yet gentle, manner.

Mary no longer worries about her son. Where angels are involved, there is no cause for concern.

Joan Wester Anderson is a parishioner at St. Edna's Parish, Arlington Heights, IL. Anderson has written eight books on angels and miracles, which are all available at

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