In my lifetime, if ever there was a time that seemed hopeless, we are living in it. Pandemic, facing the ugly reality of systemic racism in our nation, economic crisis, corrupt leadership, people turning on other people over big and small issues, uncertainty for our children, ourselves, our future…these and the regular every day struggles we all face contribute to a time where hopelessness can run rampant. How do we look at a time like this and find hope that there can and will be something better?
I have realized recently through a string of “angel meetings” that we need to look for the angels among us and BECOME the angels among us.
You see, while this time we are in seems so dark, America and our world has faced darkness much greater than this before. We have seen the worst of humanity and risen from the ashes. In each of these dark times, HOPE comes through us…through angels known and unknown who provide the light. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, author, and leader, is an example of the power of angels. He describes in Night how people made a difference in his darkest hour and he found hope. Watch this video that speaks to light right now in our world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keLT6bp7wok
Recently, I had someone who I have never met in person, advocate for me. This person went above and beyond to tell me that I had value and importance and he DOESN’T EVEN KNOW ME. I realized that he was an angel in my life…a bringer of hope…and he may never even know it.
On social media recently, a post was shared by a woman in deep despair over the state of our nation. She asked how she could keep hope up in the face of the tidal wave negativity, arguing, and lack of basic human values. I responded and in the course of answering, a story of my grandmother emerged surprising me with its lesson.
My grandmother, Grace, was the most remarkable human I have ever met. Kind, hilarious, smart, and someone who rose beyond her times with no explanation as to why. Born the daughter of a wealthy rice farmer on the bayous of Louisiana in turn of the century America, she was a product of a segregated and highly racist time. Over and over, Grace, defied this upbringing to reach out to others and treat each person as a child of God. In the early 1970’s, in rural Arkansas, Grace was the local Methodist minister’s wife. She discovered that a family from Vietnam, refugees of the war, had moved into their tiny town. They were not welcomed. Except by Grace…who in her country folk, no nonsense way, took them in as her “family” and did all she knew how to do to help them survive and thrive. Our family knows this story and Lam’s family knows this story…but this tale is not in any history book or known and YET…she was an angel for that family and an example for her own. The world was BETTER because of her actions and kindness.
This is the embodiment of hope in times of darkness. Can you imagine the fear and isolation this family felt fleeing their home in danger of death to land in a foreign world where they were not wanted? My grandmother must have seemed like a little bright spot of hope in the darkest night.
So now the question becomes, are you willing to be an angel for someone else?
Years ago, I became obsessed with an author, Robert Fulghum, who had written a bestseller called All I ever needed to know I learned in Kindergarten (which is still a phenomenal book and would be a powerful read in these times). In one of his other books, It was on fire when I lay down on it he wrote a story about the meaning of life that forever altered the course of my life. Here is an excerpt from http://hackingchristianity.net/2013/07/the-meaning-of-life.html
A story is told by Robert Fulghum, a Unitarian minister, about a seminar he once attended in Greece.
On the last day of the conference, the discussion leader walked over to the bright light of an open window and looked out. Then he asked if there were any questions.
Fulghum laughingly asked him what was the meaning of life. Everyone in attendance laughed and stirred to leave. However, the leader held up his hand to ask for silence and then responded “I will answer your question.”
He took his wallet out of his pocket and removed a small round mirror about the size of a quarter. Then he explained:
When I was a small child during World War II, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round.
I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun could never shine. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places that I could find. I kept the little mirror, and as I grew up, I would take it out at idle moments and continue the challenge of the game.
As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game, but a metaphor of what I could do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light – be it truth or understanding or knowledge – is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.
I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the dark places of human hearts – and change some things in some people. Perhaps others seeing it happen will do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.
Right now…we must reflect the light. We must do our part to reflect that light into the darkest corners of our world. So, I leave you with 3 thoughts:
1. Are your actions reflecting light and bringing hope?
2. Are you looking for the angels around you with the same focus as you look for the darkness?
3. Are you being an angel in your world?
All of us…all of us…need to make this time about spreading light. You’ve got a job to do…so strap on your wings.