Back to the Start
Around my neck hangs a silver chain with a meticulously crafted pendant that elicits many a question – “What is that?” “Who is that?” “Why are you wearing it?” The necklace bears a pendant of St. Michael, the archangel who echoes the war-cry of the good angels in the battle fought in Heaven against Satan. Among much else, St. Michael is the patron saint of sickness; however, more importantly, he symbolizes the final triumph of good over evil, God over Satan. It is said that Michael fights a great battle against Satan, binds and then hurls him in to the pits of Hell – ultimately winning a fêted victory for Heaven. Most often, St. Michael is associated with the Catholic faith; however, Christians refer to him as the Taxiarch Archangel Michael or simply Archangel Michael, as well. Thus, with the who and what of the frequented questions answered, I am left with the why…
The patron saint hangs around my neck because he is a constant reminder to me to continue the fight – the battle against sickness, anger, evil, injustice, failure, and heartache. To stop for even a moment and consider the absolute chaos of our lives is utterly overwhelming. I weep for the sick and aching hearts in the world – the child who simply longs for a cup of hot chocolate with a mother; the AIDS patients in the hospitals, waiting to die; the hungry living on the streets; the lonely and abandoned elderly; the wicked thieves of the world, who steal more than just things; the followers who can’t remember why they had faith in the first place; the writers who can’t seem to find their words; the musicians who can’t seem to find their voices; the youth pastors who daily endure the discouraging nature of adolescents; the terrified child who listens to the screams of his parents; the men, women, and children who daily endure the cruelty and ignorance of racism; the poverty stricken families who don’t know where the next meal will come from or how the heating bill will get paid; the wife who receives the call that her husband is never coming home; the young girl who sits alone in the cemetery at the grave of her grandmother, her tiny body wrenching with sobs. For these atrocities, I weep.
Yet, as my head hangs down, and my eyes blur from the tears, I feel the gentle roll of the cool metal against my neck, and my hand lifts to find the dangling pendant of St. Michael – the warrior who fights incessantly – and the words of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” play over and over in my head, “…nobody said it was easy…no one ever said it would be this hard…I’m going back to the start.” And I too am reminded to go back to the start and begin the fight anew, remembering why we fight in the first place – the brave young teen who stands up and between violence and his friend of color; the police officer who pulls over the drunk driver right before he hits the single mother on her way home to her baby girl; the neighboring farmers who arrive to help another harvest the crops; the nurse who helps the stroke victim learn to walk again; the widow who volunteers to talk and pray with the terminally ill on the weekends; the anonymous sender of a bouquet of flowers to someone in need of a smile; the doctors who perform the heart transplant that allows an eighteen-year-old to live to eighty; the father who reads to his daughter every night before tucking her in; the friend who listens without questions or judgment; the volunteers who re-build the houses for tornado and flood victims; the teacher who takes the extra time to help a student understand; the hand that is held out to help up the fallen.
It is so easy to become plagued by the pandemonium of this life on Earth – of the terrible, the discouraging, the disheartening. If we allowed it to, the darkness would swallow us whole. Yet, this I believe – in the random acts of kindness and the purposeful efforts of the generous, compassionate, and empathetic, we can find the strength to battle the sadness. True, no one ever said it would be easy, but there is a fighter – a St. Michael – in all of us, and sometimes, we just need to go back to the start.