The subtitle of this courageous little book, written by Lillie Leonardi, “A Memoir about Flight 93, A Field of Angels and My Spiritual Homecoming” grabbed me more than the title, “In the Shadow of a Badge”. I always like to hear stories about Angels.
Seven years after the horrific events of 9/11, the author discusses her meeting with a former FEMA representative, he suffering from an illness in his lungs, as a result of prolonged exposure to the toxic conditions of Ground Zero. In sharing stories he told her, “If what you saw at the site injured your heart and your mind then you, too, are one of the walking wounded. There is no standard as to who was hurt more.” The words ring true; we were all wounded on that day. How reassuring that the forces of good were present that day as the first responders and recovery workers began their arduous task, although it does appear that they did suffer more than the rest of us, whether from a resultant physical disability and death or the psychiatric issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
A reappearing aspect in Ms. Leonardi story is her questioning of a long-held belief that an inferior status as a woman created the pathway for her to suffer PTSD, rather more than the men she associated with in her department who did not develop and confront the symptoms that she did. Only when she begins to meet and share her story with fellow sufferers, combined with her dream work, does she find peace from the shame.
I was pleased to see the author’s willingness to look into alternative healing practices as her frustration at her stalemate with anxiety, flashbacks, emotional and physical pain continued. Years later, a former boss from the FBI suggests that she ask her doctors about a therapy known as Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR). Somewhat disappointing to me was the fact that although she describes the process as helping more than just to process the traumatic events of 9/11, they also helped expand her spirituality; deeper understanding of her faith, cleared sludge from her mind’s clogged passageways and more clarity of insight. That was end of her discussion of the therapy.
I also wish the author had spent more time revealing details of the healing processes she used and additionally, would have loved to have seen the little grotto she created in her backyard. She tells of anxiously visiting home after being on-site for several days to reconnect with the love and nurturing she experiences with her daughter and granddaughter in their shared home. This first visit brought much work in the form of creating a healing space. The author tells of her commitment to prayer and meditation by arranging for a friend’s backhoe to dig a hole for a pond where she would place a statue of the Blessed Mother.
In summary, the book brought forth emotional responses from me at times and I was happy that the author had the faith and support from her family that sustained her. I do wish she would have spent more time discussing the healing processes but I don’t think that was to be the purpose of the book. Referring back to the title, I would assume the book was to be about the Angelic vision and again I felt not enough time was spent regarding that experience. I think the purpose that came through was the revelation that the forces of good and evil had met on that playing field and her ability to see them was pivotal in her ability to heal from the psychic wounding she experienced at that time.
This beautiful book was a gift from Hay House in exchange for a written review. No requirements of a positive nature were requested. Only honest criticism was asked of me.
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