My son’s nighttime guardian

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The painting was called “Watchers in the Night,” painted by Thomas Blackshear II. It’s one of my favorite paintings.

The illustrative style depicts a very large angel keeping guard over a child in his bed at night. The sleeping boy seems unaware of his nighttime guardian, who is holding a flame in one hand and a spear in the other, his wings in a protective position around the bed.

I couldn’t afford a large copy of the painting, but found a 5×7-inch card with the image on the front. I bought and framed it, and hung it on the wall over my son’s bed as a reminder that God was watching over him.

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But let me back up a bit.

My son, who was about 3 years old at the time, had his own room. One night, my wife and I heard him talking to someone. It was obviously a conversation, with the cadence and pauses that go with it. We assumed he was talking to an imaginary friend, or something, and snuck down the hallway to peek in.

We couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he stopped talking as we got closer to his room. We looked in through his open door and there he sat in his bed, calmly looking at us.

“Hey, buddy,” I said. “Who are you talking to?”

His brow furrowed as if I’d asked a ludicrous question and said, matter-of-factly, “The angel.”

My wife and I glanced at each other.

“Um, what angel?” I asked.

“THAT angel,” he said, pointing up toward the corner past the end of his bed, at a spot near the 11-foot ceiling.

We just stared, not doubting for a moment he saw exactly what he said he did.

“He’s right there,” my son said, pointing again.

“OK,” I said. “We believe you, but we can’t see him. Maybe he just wants you to see him.”

We told him goodnight and that it was OK to keep talking to the unseen guardian. But he just stared at us until we were out of sight, and only began talking again quietly when we were far enough away that we couldn’t hear what he was saying.

Later on, when asked what he and the angel had been discussing, he wouldn’t tell us. I suppose it was something just intended for him. But I could not forget it. There was no fear, no uneasiness, just peace and comfort. That’s how I knew it was from God.

When I came across the “Watchers” painting, I immediately thought of my son and his visitor. I thanked God again for his protection over my boy, and for speaking to him. I couldn’t wait to get that print and put it over his bed so we would both never forget it.

I don’t know if he still has it 25 years later, or remembers that night. But I will never forget it. And I find peace in knowing that God will never forget my son.

Brett Campbell can be reached at