By Tony Rossi
When she needed it the most, Sister Ave Clark believes that a stranger brought the light of an angel into her life.
It happened nearly 20 years ago when she survived a debilitating accident in which a runaway train hit the car she was driving in Queens. After a year of hospitalization and rehab, Sister Ave was finally able to return to her work, giving talks and retreats as the founder of Heart to Heart Ministry, which offers hope and help to suffering people.
One day, she was giving a talk in a parish when a man approached her and said he was glad she was doing well. She didn’t recognize him, so he revealed that he was a volunteer ambulance worker who was on the scene of her accident.
The paramedics told him that she was in shock and her blood pressure kept dropping, so he needed to talk with her to keep her spirit going so she could fight for her life. He kept telling Sister Ave, “I’m with you. You’re not alone. You are going to be all right.”
Sister Ave believes that message registered in her subconscious because she survived the experience. She now sees that man as having been “a light on an angel wing,” which is also the title of a book of reflections that she’s co-authored with Paula Santoro. It’s a phrase she coined to reflect the people who bring “hope, comfort, and encouragement” into our lives.
Another term for these types of people is “peace givers,” whom Sister Ave and Joe and Peggy Clark write about in another book titled “Peace and Compassion … Holy Threads.” During a “Christopher Closeup” interview, Sister Ave told me, “Peace, to me, is [experiencing] God’s love no matter what you’re going through. The whole idea of peace and compassion, you can’t have one without the other, because when you’re compassionate, you either give or receive peace.”
As an example of living that truth, Sister Ave points to a formerly homeless man named Albie. He lived in College Point and made sure that his homeless friends all had a bench to sleep on.
“One of my [fellow] sisters helped Albie,” Sister Ave continued, “and he’s now in an apartment in Brooklyn.
“Now, who is Albie? He’s the man that was on the street that drank vodka a lot. But who is he? He’s a peace giver. I think you start with your heart first. That’s where compassion is born because then, not only do we transform the world, we’re transformed too. We get better and better.”
Tony Rossi is the host and producer of the Christophers radio show/podcast “Christopher Closeup,” and a writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column