Heaven is Empty

All the Angels are Here

Last week I wrote about my Gemutlich morning, my day of rest and rejuvenation. I can’t say I knew what was coming in the week ahead but I was pretty sure it would be challenging. I was right. It was one of those head turning weeks with one revelation after another. First it was President Trump after three days of supposedly being diagnosed with Covid-19 coming out of hospital saying he feels better than he has in twenty years, then touting an experimental cure that is untested and unavailable to everyone else in America.

Following this was the FBI disrupting a plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan and put her on “trial” for mandating Covid-19 mitigating factors as egregious as wearing a mask in public places. Then it was President Trump’s decision to not show up for the next presidential debate because he didn’t like that it would be virtual, not because it might expose the audience, the moderator or his rival to the virus. Then it was his decision to hold a rally on the White House lawn, masks not required.

In the background, were shooting deaths by and of police, wild fires, hurricanes, a spike in Covid infections in the US and Europe, demonstrations in Belarus, and warfare in Azerbaijan to name just some of the major events in the world.

If the enemies of democracy could write the perfect script for the weakening of Western Nations, this past week would certainly be one of its chapters.

All this turmoil during my post Gemutlich week caused me to to remember a quote from Shakespeare’s, “The Tempest.” As Ferdinand was leaping from a storm battered boat that he was certain was about to sink, he cries out, “Hell is empty, all the demons are here”. It certainly did feel like the world was being overrun by demons this week. However, my readers who are familiar with “The Tempest”, know that in the end the rightful order of things is established with the assistance of the liberated spirit Ariel, and justice and forgiveness prevail.

This got me to thinking about the current dilemmas in our world. If indeed there are destructive demons among us, are there not angels here as well? Because if there were only demons in the world, we would have already fallen into irredeemable despair and anarchy.

We all think we can identify the demons among us. But how good are we at identifying the angels? How much attention do we give to what really constitutes “good”. My wife, who on most days is an angel, has often said to me that the reason we keep having wars is that we’ve never really learned to live in peace. We give lip service to wanting peace but our actions as a human race betray our stated intentions. It seems we are so often ready to fight rather than do the hard work of learning how to have peace.

We have all met angels, whether we recognized them as angels or something else. They are a kind stranger, a heroic fireman/woman, a teacher who does their best to help us learn something new, a minister, rabbi, priest or imam who strive to live by the tenets of their faith, a nurse, an EMT or doctor who risk their lives daily with Covid patients. Those are the more obvious ones.

I believe there are more subtle ones. These are the angels who live in us alongside our demons. The angels who do their best to encourage us to be our kindest, our most generous and compassionate selves. The angels who help us see the humanity in everyone, especially the ones who are hard to like.

Some of us have had their inner angel beaten and frightened into submission by parental demons or societal demons. These are the people who feel a need to harm themselves or others, who can only have any sense of personal worth by creating pain and confusion in the world. They crave kindness and love but in receiving it, only see weakness in those who offer it to them. These are the bullies of the world who have to constantly seek adulation by pandering to our lowest impulses and exploiting our weaknesses and fears. If we allow them to make us afraid our own demons will cause us to tolerate cruelty toward others.

Heaven does not need angels. The earth needs angels, either the celestial kind or the human kind. Good and evil will never reconcile. But when angels at least equal the number and strength of demons, then there can be some kind of dynamic balance. When we call upon our inner angel, we begin to achieve an inner equilibrium. I see this all the time in my work as a psychotherapist. As my clients reclaim the parts of themselves that have been harmed and diminished by experiences in their life, they gain the ability to make choices that improve their lives. They learn to neutralize their demons. They become more compassionate towards themselves and others. They find they have more energy to live a better life because they understand and accept themselves. You could say they have embraced their inner angel.

I can’t always locate my inner angel. Sometimes I become complacent and let myself be caught up in the pain, confusion and violence of the world. I react rather that act. At times like this, I hope I will encounter an angel who sees my confusion and knows just what to do or say that gives me pause. I wish this for all of you.

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Thank you for being someone’s angel. Thank you for being one of my readers. Love the ones you’re with. Life is short even without a pandemic. Be safe. Be well. Please forward this to people you feel would find it interesting and encourage them to subscribe.