Jim Cosgrove: When life gets hellish, little angels restore hope
Just when you think the world can’t get any crazier, somehow it does.
And just when you feel you just can’t bear it any more, you meet someone who can bring the crazy train to a screeching halt. Someone who can make time stand still, if only for a second.
Maybe this person commands your attention with just the right words or a perfectly timed smile or an otherwise inconsequential brush against your forearm. Whatever it is, this person fills you with a burst of hope that everything is not as bad as it seems. This person induces clarity that momentarily restores your faith in humanity. Suddenly you realize that crawling back into bed and burying your head in the pillows isn’t such a great option after all.
I call these people angels and messengers and sages. And they’re everywhere. Once you get in the habit of recognizing them, you see them more and more frequently. Three weeks ago I met such an angel.
"It seems that when I most need a spiritual jolt, it comes from a child. Children are closer to the source than adults. They’re intuitive and inherently compassionate. They do not feign affection or interest. They haven’t been jaded by cynics or clouded by dogma. They know no labels. They know only love."
I was performing for a group of patients and their families at Children’s Mercy Hospital. As the kids came into the room — some in parents’ arms, some in wheelchairs, some connected to IV poles — I asked them a question I ask most kids when I meet them: “What’s your superpower?”
“Flying!” said a boy who was propped up on pillows in a blue wagon.
“Ice,” shouted a little girl in a hospital gown. And when I tilted my head and asked how that worked, she said, “I shoot ice out of my fingers.” Oh, right. The “Frozen” generation.
And then I came to a girl who is about 7 or 8 years old. She was sitting in the front row. When I asked about her superpower, she quietly and confidently declared, “Being brave.”
“Wow,” I said. “That’s an impressive power.”
She locked eyes with me and slowly nodded, saying, “Ever since I came here, I’ve had to be brave.”
And then she ever so slightly glanced toward a boy sitting next to her who was recovering from reconstructive surgeries, and she said with the insight and compassion of a sage, “There are a lot of kids here who have the same superpower as me.”
Right there. That’s when everything froze.
There are no words when you’re in the presence of awe-inspiring wisdom. I silently nodded in respect and admiration.
It seems that when I most need a spiritual jolt, it comes from a child. Children are closer to the source than adults. They’re intuitive and inherently compassionate. They do not feign affection or interest. They haven’t been jaded by cynics or clouded by dogma. They know no labels. They know only love.
I need more angels like her in my life. I need her innocence when faced with the realities of hatred. I need her compassion to help me face my own prejudices. I need her resonating love to offset the fearmongers who spin their deceptions and hysteria.
In our brief interaction, she reminded me that love brings light to darkness, surrounds hatred and forces it to surrender. Love reigns supreme.
As I finished up my last song, I turned to thank her, but she was gone. It wasn’t a large room with many people. Surely I would have seen her leave, but she must have slipped out during my performance without me noticing. Angels are known for that.