To make sure I’m staying healthy in this pregnancy, I’ve been going to the pool at my apartment complex a couple times a week to get a little exercise. No matter what hour that is, this time of year in Houston that means time in the harsh UV light of the summer sun. After one of my recent workouts, I was stretching and noticed two new freckles. Right on cue, my wandering mind started to ask…
“How are freckles formed?”
I knew it had something to do with melanin, just like what decides different skin colors, but I didn’t get why it only showed up at individual spots. Why wasn’t it evenly distributed? So, I did what I always do, I looked it up. I read a number of interesting articles about it and this is what I found.
As I said, freckles are the result of an increase in melanin, a dark pigment produced in the skin. Melanin is meant to protect DNA from the damaging effects of the sun, which is why it is produced when UV light from that sun hits melanocytes, the cells that make melanin. When those melanocytes are evenly spread throughout the skin, you get tanned, but when they cluster together, freckles appear.
The main cause of freckles, though, is genetics. Genetics plays a big role in whether your skin gets them from sun exposure. Scientists have found that the MC1R gene provides instructions for making a protein that balances the even distribution of pigments in the hair and skin. When this gene is not working properly, pigments can build up, leading to freckles. That’s right, one reason for freckles is genetic abnormality.
As I was reading up on the scientific understanding of freckles, I also came across a sweet nickname for freckles that many parents tell their children: “Angel Kisses”. This is a cute story to tell little kids, that angels are watching over them and just want to show the kids how much they love them, so their kisses leave marks.
Even though it sounds like a cute fairy tale, parts of it are true.
First of all, angels are real. They are mentioned over and over again throughout the Bible starting all the way back in Genesis:
“So He drove the man out; and at the east of the Garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24)
And with one of the most well-known references being the Annunciation in Luke:
“In the sixth month, Gabriel the angel was sent from God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man called Joseph, from the family of David. The virgin was called Mary.” (Luke 1:26-27)
Secondly, angels are looking out for each of us, as I talked about in a blog back in December and as the Catechism puts so beautifully here:
'From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their (the angels) watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united to God. ' (CCC 336)
They may not be kissing us and leaving little marks on our skin, but they are definitely there.
Since we talked about misinformation a few weeks ago, I’d be remiss if I didn’t correct a few common misconceptions about those angels that are hanging around.
- Your deceased loved ones do not become your guardian angel.
- First of all, humans do not BECOME angels. Angels are a separate creature than humans, uniquely created by God.
- Instead, when your loved ones go to heaven, they become saints. Once they are in heaven, they definitely can pray for you and intercede on your behalf. They for sure can look down on you, but they are not angels. Your guardian angel is something different.
- Angels do not always look like the ones depicted in our artwork or on Hallmark cards.
- Angels are creatures of pure spirit with no bodily form. Because of this, when they appear to humans they have appeared in a number of different forms.
- Since we are humans, they sometimes come in human appearance, like in Genesis 18 and 19 when they appeared to Abraham.
- Some descriptions are hard to picture, like in Daniel 10:5-6 when an angel is described as having arms and legs of stone, face like lightning, and eyes as lamps of fire.
- Others I wish we couldn’t picture… they’re super weird.
- In Ezekiel, there’s a description of nested wheels with eyes.
- Then in Revelations 4:6-8 there’s a creature described as a figure of a lion, calf, eagle, with six wings.
Well… that took a very weird turn. One minute we were talking about getting some summer sun, then you’re looking at images of those weird creatures. Honestly, since it was the summer, I was just looking for a lighthearted blog, not too deep. Hopefully you liked it and learned something about either freckles or angels. Have a great week.