The Angel of the Stacks


In July 2009 I was in Cambridge for a meeting related to a very important project, called The Way – an adult Orthodox catechism, also known as the ‘Orthodox Alpha’, and visited St. John’s College with Dr. David Frost, a fellow of this College and, at the time, Director of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, at the same university.

Visiting different rooms of the college, where only teachers had access, we started sharing experiences we had during our doctoral studies on providential moments, when the ‘dime dropped’, and we were able to find unexpectedly, on the shelves of academic libraries certain essential materials for the study we did.

St John’s College bridge over River Cams

At this point, while we were on the college bridge over the River Cams, Professor Frost asked me if I ever heard of the ‘angel of the stacks’, the unseen assistant whose hand directs the researcher towards the materials he or she needs, and to which otherwise they would never pay attention.

I found this metaphor absolutely fascinating and a plausible image for what I experienced in my study. So, I have decided to share it with you here, and I’m curious if other current or former students have also had such miraculous experiences.


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

One thought on “The Angel of the Stacks”

  1. What I did find was not so much discovery of relevant reading materials, but ‘angels’ like yourself who were willing to give me so much time and help. I also used to find consistently that when I was really stuck with my argument and could not see the way forward, I would pray about it and eventually I’d be shown the thread to follow. It was a very challenging experience but I was humbled by how much God seemed to be involved in it all.


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