When I first saw the photograph of Kayla Mueller, the young American aid-worker firstly captured by ISIS only to die in a blast somewhere, I got a real shock. I saw the open face of a young girl who, in many ways, could have been my own daughter. I am lucky enough to meet young people like that all the time. I began to notice it, really with the young people who flocked to Darwin to help me teach young illiterate Aboriginal kids to read. As the years went by I found many of them moved on to organisations like the United Nations or other groups through which they could do good for humanity.
Since then I have met countless young people in Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, England, the United States and Australia committed to making this world a better place.
What I found was in many ways each and every one did their own good thing on their own. They did it not for recognition or fame but simply out of concern for their fellow human beings. What I also noticed was how much of this work went unrecognised.
In fact it moved me so much, I have wanted to present all those that I come across with a pure glass angel with huge wings. I remember seeing the film “Michael”, which starred John Travolta as an angel and he hid beneath a huge coat covering his large wings. I thought a glass statuette, about a foot high with huge wings, would be a way of acknowledging the good work all these young people did.
Of course, in the light of all that is going on, it remains a hope that I can do this.
But, to get back to Kayla she is one of a great many young people determined to make this world a better place.
I remember seeing a television program on her which talked of her commitment to social justice and her passion for freedom. True to her passion for justice she ventured where angels feared to tread and paid the ultimate price for it. However, my guess is, rather than putting young people off from doing good, her death will do precisely the opposite. That which is most precious in our world is always most vulnerable but in a strange way that is what makes it compelling to be done. Kayla is but one of many who daily put their lives on the line whether it be protecting the rest of us from the scourge of Ebola or rescuing children and war damaged people out of bomb craters. The hard hearted in this world will never understand that. They see a world ruled by power, might and fear. But in reality the world is actually the opposite. It is ruled by the power of love. It’s love which brings us out of our shell-holes to reach out to others. It’s love that calls us to dream of a peaceful world. It’s love that ends wars, protects babies and old people and dreams of a better world.
Kayla Mueller and angels like her are but visible signs and manifestations of this limitless love. I have learned that angels are God’s messengers, that is the bearers of this love and so as I pray, and go into mourning for members of her family and all who personally loved her, I hope they will be comforted by the thought that her death was not in vain.