In 1994 I wrote a column about hope and angels. That year angels could be found everywhere — from desk calendars to popular film and public art. They even made the cover of Time magazine. That year 69 percent of Americans polled by Time said they believed in angels. Forty six percent said they believed in their own guardian angel.
Where have they gone? Ironically, they may have been too angelic. The angels of history were mighty messengers. Back then, anyone who invited an encounter with an angel was prepared to be totally changed by the experience. In 1994, angels has been reduced to bite-sized beings, easily digested and most often found on postage stamps and refrigerator doors.
In 1994 Los Angeles has also just experienced an earthquake that caused one of our major freeways to collapse. Then, structures crumbled from natural disaster. Now, they crumble because of a man-made economic disaster so great that streets develop huge sink holes and water mains burst almost weekly. And now disaster is not just a freeway in Santa Monica. It’s the personal struggles so many people are going through financially and emotionally. It’s the large structures and infrastructures the world over that have been struck by devastating acts of nature and man. From every angle we have literally been shaken to our very core. Ground we trusted to be solid is giving way. Even hope — that deeply embedded emotion in all of us stalwart optimists — is waning.
Hope might not be enough. Swords might be too much. And really, neither will help us right now as a tool or weapon against our weakened state. Instead, we need to turn to ourselves. We need to become our own and each other’s angels, administering strength of heart and fairness of mind. It’s been said that when Buddha arrives again, he won’t come in human form, he’ll appear as a community — we’ll see him in one another. Perhaps this has already happened and we just need the dust to settle a little more so we are able to see him and us. Maybe it is time again for angels. And maybe those mighty messengers are you and me. Let’s hope so!
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