As it appears in the New York Journal of Books:
A beautiful, timeless, and timely collection of inspirational passages to use as a daily touchstone, Roma Downey’s Be an Angel: Devotions to Inspire and Encourage Love and Light Along the Way makes good on its title. It’s lovely in its optimism, succinct in its knowledge, efficient in its compact arrangement, and wonderfully structured for the reader’s convenience.
That actress, producer, and author, Roma Downey is a household name due to her starring role as an angel in the nine-year run of the fantasy/drama television show, Touched by an Angel, which justifies her hand in writing this book; it is her humility to which we’re attracted. In the book’s introduction, the author states her impetus in writing the book: “Over the years, because of my role on TV, people often mistook me for an actual angel.” Realizing the responsibility of her high-profile position, she explains how she rose to the challenge: “Della taught me that if we’re going to be used by God, we need to let go of our expectations and get out of the way.”
The 52 chapters of Be an Angel encourage the book’s use as a daily devotional to ponder in an incremental manner that, once coalesced, will impress as an overall way of being in the world, “bringing light into darkness.”
The chapters are neat and accessible, each beginning with a recognizable, inspirational quote followed compatibly by a short example of Downey’s personal experience to illustrate her point. Her manner is intimate and confessional. Her concerns are universal. Her tales range from anecdotes to transparent first-person narratives. Her settings range from home and hearth to her presence on social media.: “I recently posted this verse to my social media story one morning just after dawn . . . with the rest of the world, I had been watching a terrible international conflict evolve thousands of miles away.”
There are interesting stories in this well-arranged book, and the reader is given a look behind the curtain of a person leading a fascinating life. Downey shares her acquaintances and accomplishments with awe-struck wonder. She roams out into the world to India and returns to us with a message: “In India I encountered a profound oneness with humanity. We all love and lose. We have families and dreams . . . I
learned that we can understand one another’s pain if we open ourselves to it.”
Covering such subjects as hope, faith, gratitude, forgiveness, and grace, Downey suggests with a light hand that the beginning of enduring change might all start with you: “I started looking at what irks me considering what I’d want changed then doing for someone else what I’d want done.” Downey arrives at a conclusion: “We can’t change everything, but we can work toward peace when we change ourselves . . . if we don’t tend to what’s inside, we simply don’t have the bandwidth to be the change on a grander scale.”
Though anchored in Christian doctrine, Be an Angel transcends principle to embrace a larger concept of God. “It’s so essential in our frenetic world to step aside and be with God in stillness.” The author finds God in nature, “Often, I use the shift between activities to experience His presence in nature . . . I return to being not merely doing one more thing.”
The arrangement of this book is user friendly. Be an Angel is both an owner’s manual and a guide. Beneath each of the 14 general categories, there are three companion stories illustrating Downey’s subject in exemplary form. At the end of each essay is a prompt for the reader’s consideration written as a reflection, and the reader is invited to put what they’ve read into practice.
For dreamers and students, thinkers and searchers, Roma Downey’s Be an Angel is a collection of spellbinding essays that reads like a devotional. Its tone is enlightening and encouraging. It’s a beautiful book you’ll want to keep at your bedside and give to your family and friends.
Claire Fullerton is a staff reviewer at New York Journal of Books.
Roma Burnett OBE is an actress from Derry, Northern Ireland. For nine seasons she played Monica the angel in the CBS television series Touched by an Angel. She produced the mini-series The Bible for the History Channel and also appeared in it as Mary, mother of Jesus. She has performed on stage with the Abbey Theatre, The National Theatre of Ireland, and has appeared both on and off Broadway. She played the leading role of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the Emmy award-winning miniseries A Woman Named Jackie for NBC.