Whenever we hear the word ‘hero’ images of Superman or Batman come to mind. They come soaring across the sky in broad daylight, snatching bad guys from the streets and saving helpless people from villains.
Little children have their own ideas of heroes, too. In my own kids, I’m not sure if the same pictures of Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne pop up in their heads when the hear the word hero, but I know that in their present “reality” they do have a concept of bad guys and good guys. To them, the good guys are the ones that fight the bad guys, save the hostages, protect civilians and dismantle bombs. They even have names for these guys – Mason, Jason Hudson, Blackburn and their friends Hannah, Montes and a Russian guy named Resnov (very far from the kinds of heroes I grew up with).
As they older, I know their concept of ‘hero’ and ‘good guys’ would change, like mine did. From the beautiful world of make-believe where real-life problems didn’t exist, challenges were brought right at my doorstep and I had no choice but to face them – without Superman or Batman to help me. In this world, I am the hero and the main character in the story.
Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but as we age and our priorities change, we also begin to see what’s more important in life. I learned an especially nice lesson lately as I was helping my 9-year-old son with his assignment in civics. They were learning about the needs of every individual in the community and they were, as it was enumerated in his book, food, clothing, shelter, education, love, leisure and belief in a higher being or faith in God (now, that wasn’t the lesson, silly rabbit. We’ll come to that in a bit). He was then asked to identify his own needs as a child. As I helped him do this, I realized how much I have grown to pay less attention to these needs myself. Not that I stopped providing these to myself and my family, but I have obviously hit the auto pilot button a long time ago and drifted along with the motion I no longer gave that much appreciation for the food we have on the table, the functional clothes we wear, the roof over our heads and the blanket that keep us warm at night, at least not the kind of appreciation they truly deserve.
Sounds kinda vague, doesn’t it. After all, can you really quantify appreciation? Well, I just know because if I truly appreciated these simple little things I have, there wouldn’t be a mundane day in a year. Going back to the lesson, it taught me that the basics were actually taught to us in grade school but because of the things we go through in life, we tend to forget them. We lose sight of what’s important and we sometimes develop an unhealthy obsession with our frivolous wants. This, I learned, through one way or another, could lead to unhappiness and an impoverished spirit; to a formation of an inner void that can never be filled, and eventually to utter destruction.
Angel with Many Faces
Thus the need for a new hero, to save us not from alien robots or evil witches in the fantasy world but from the real but unseen dangers of everyday life – the danger of losing our faith. This is where our everyday heroes come in. The moment I started to pay close attention to every bit of blessing again, the super heroes of my childhood began to reappear in my life and this time in different costumes. Often they dress as tiny children running around incessantly and trying my patience, other times as friendly traffic enforcers who would remind me that I’ve been driving around with a child and an expired driver’s license for three months (when they do that, it usually comes with a cost – around $70 where I come from). Believe it or not, they can even assume shapes of inanimate objects such as umbrellas I’ve forgotten or a food my three-year-old son would crave and look for on our way home to prevent me from hitting the highway with a defective vehicle.
Life has a funny way of knowing which area of your personal life you’re particularly struggling with at the moment and if you are aware of this you would almost always know that an angel is being sent to help you. The most wonderful message recently brought by an angel concerning my spiritual journey is perhaps that statement from the policeman who spoke during the Symposium on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control held in our school last week. He was addressing the students’ parents in the crowd but when he uttered those words I knew in my heart they were meant for me.
He encouraged the parents to develop a deeper relationship with God and to go to church at least once a week with their spouses and children. He challenged each one to imagine God appearing before them in church one day, asking, “Why have you come alone? Why can’t you share my message of salvation with your kids? Isn’t it one of your responsibilities to bring them that they may also come to know me?” He spoke in the vernacular in the most down-to-earth yet funny way that was so natural to him, he not only won the crowd’s attention and approval but he also convinced me that heroes and angels are in our midst everyday.