Angel Sighting: A Writer Wednesday Post

July 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Irene in Essays


Good Brood Thomas’ Michael in Thought, photo & all text, Irene O’Garden, © 2013

To listen to this post, please click here:Angel Sighting

Angels resist photography. They resist capture in imagery of any kind, and it takes a special person to coax them into three dimensions. My immensely talented friend Thomas Donahue has done so, and last Sunday we were privileged to attend the dedication of his “St. Michael of Port Austin” in the cemetery of St Michael’s Catholic Church in Port Austin, Michigan.

Blue MichaelSt Michael of Port Austin, photo © Irene O’Garden, 2013

It is a superb monument, with the powerful, protective bronze angel atop a three-tiered stone structure. Two years ago, Thomas asked this farming community to collect stones from their fields. He then built a pedestal which is also a columbarium.  The monument is 16 feet high, and is at once traditional and modern. Important local symbols surround St Michael: corn, lumber and regional grindstone. His wings were inspired by the Michigan Sandhill Crane.


BehindBehind the Angel, photo ©Irene O’Garden, 2013


Isn’t it miraculous this angel was so recently created? He looks as if he has been there forever, but here he is below, hoisted by human wings on to the stone. The artist is on the right with dear friend Mark Lacko, left, helping.


Crane Lift


Awhile back, Thomas helped restore the Statue of Liberty. In the following photo you can see her influence. I love to think how long this monument will stand, how many troubled hearts it will ease. While St. Michael bears the scale of justice,  you’ll see he rests the hilt of his sword on the scale. “In advocacy of the soul,” says Thomas.


SlantbetterBeneath the Angel, photo, © Irene O’Garden, 2013


I’m honored to know people who make angels, and people who help put them in place, and people who help artists keep their heads in place during the stress of creation. Here’s Thomas next to me, his beloved partner Mark and my beloved husband John. We all help keep each other’s heads on.

Us Angel


Should you visit the thumb of Michigan, plan to visit one of the finest adornments on the whole hand. If not, take heart knowing such fine things are still being made.







Seen any angels lately?

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  • Alison

    Yes, Irene , you have been an angel to me all of my adult life: a soul to look to for steadying, for inspiration and for quiet tender guidance. With appreciation and love, Alison

    • IreneOGarden

      Thanks so much, dear spirit–lovely to break such bread with you the other night!

  • Scott

    What a superb achievement. Today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg’s Pickett’s Charge and I’m thinking of all the monuments to the fallen angels of the Civil War that reside in that Pennsylvania landscape. It IS truly miraculous that angels are still being created. Thomas’ vision of the eternal will, indeed, help us all grapple with our own mortality. Thank you, Irene, and thank you, Thomas, and thank you God, the author of all miracles.

    • IreneOGarden

      So appreciate your perspective, Scott–so many angels there in Gettysburg–blessings to you–

  • Karen Beckwith

    Irene, and also Thomas! Such weighty subject matter as an angel sculpture, and so light a thing sculpted in bronze. I am delighted by this post, and of Thomas’ achievement! Thank you for sharing this.

    • Thanks, Karen–I do hope you get to see it one day!

  • mark and Thomas

    Dear Irene, Thank you for that lovely post but more importantly thanks to you and John for attending the unveiling and letting Thomas show you his ” CHILDHOOD ” in Port Austin Michigan. We are so grateful for our enduring friendship over the years and so happy to have shared this moment with you both. with love and affection, Mark and Thomas .

    • You can tell it was our extreme delight!

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