Lorna Byrne’s 2008 book ‘Angels in My Hair’ is a bestseller. Her memoir covers the trials and tribulations she experienced while growing up with the ability to see angels — but not talk about it with anyone. Her own family thought she had mental problems. She was warned that there was a possibility they would send her to a mental institution. She was given foreknowledge of painful events that would happen later in life (e.g., the early death of her husband), but was sworn to secrecy. Finally, at a much later stage in her life, she was told to write her book so that people would know one simple message: We are never alone.
Ms. Byrne’s book has plenty of detractors — atheists, agnostics, Christians of various denominations, and individuals from other religious faiths. That is understandable, given the nature of her claims. As a Catholic, I certainly have qualms with topics that were left out of the book, but many of her editorial decisions make sense when one considers Ireland’s violent history between Protestants and Catholics.
‘Angels in My Hair’ is a great book for anyone who has ever wondered if angels exists. It’s also a worthwhile read for those who identify as a devout [insert religious denomination here], provided he or she accepts from the beginning that Ms. Byrne is writing exclusively on angels — not the Bible.
Before I go on, perhaps the best way to sum up how I feel about Ms. Byrne’s book is to first share a quick story from my own life.
When I was a young child I had a snowball fight with a bunch of kids. Half of us were on one side of the street, and half of us were on the other. We were running around having a good time, and at a certain point I picked up a snowball and charged towards the road with tunnel vision on my target. Suddenly I felt a force, as if someone had grabbed me by the shoulders and planted my feet into the ground. I was brought to an abrupt stop. A car slammed on its breaks and skidded to a halt right where I had been running. Even as a young child — with no formal religious education — I knew that I should have been hit by that car. I knew that I should have been injured or possibly dead. I knew that something intervened on my behalf. I had no knowledge of guardian angels at that time, but I remember being completely in awe of whatever force made itself known to me in that moment.
I tell this story because I have no reason to lie to my readers. I am not insane. I am not schizophrenic. I am not on some secret Vatican payroll to deceive people. I do not do drugs. I rarely drink. I am a law-abiding citizen who tries to do what is morally right. I also acknowledge that I am an incredibly flawed individual. Likewise, countless others like me — perhaps including individuals in your life who have never given you a reason to trust their integrity or mental health — have experienced something supernatural. Why should those individuals be treated as hostile witnesses? Answer: They shouldn’t.
Ms. Byrne says:
“We have become a very materialistic society, and so frequently we look at death and ask, ‘Is this it? I rot away and there is nothing more?’ I assure you there is more — much more. I hope that through the books I write I can communicate this and help people to understand. Believe what I say. Believe that, yes, there is more, much more, even though I may not be able to prove it or show it to you now; it is proven to everyone when they die. Some people feel that then it’s too late — if they have to wait to die to see the proof. People are given proofs while they are alive, but sometimes they have to look or listen very hard to recognize them.” Lorna Byrne, Angels in My Hair (New York: Random House, 2008), 174.
It is healthy to be skeptical. We should always read with a discerning eye. However, it is also healthy to have an open heart. The search for truth requires ample doses of each, even if it seems paradoxical. I believe that if you read ‘Angels in My Hair’ with that balancing act in mind, then you will see that there is much truth to what Ms. Byrne says.
You do not have to be a superman or superwoman. You do not have to bear all of life’s burdens as if you were Atlas holding up the globe. You do not have to create a tough-talk exterior shell to protect you from the opinions of others and you do not need to have all the answers. That is because you are not alone. In your darkest hours there is always someone by your side. Ask your angels to give you strength, and you will be surprised at what they bring you from the depths of your soul.