Book Reviews

In The Shadow of a Badge

Lillie Leonardi

Spirituality, Health & Healing, Memoir


Memoir about Flight 93, a Field of Angels, and My Spiritual Homecoming Former law enforcement professional Lillie Leonardi has always lived with her feet planted in two separate worlds—the metaphysica... More

Apr 12, 2013 uma
We all hide bits and pieces of who we really are. Lillie Leonardi was no exception. But when the truth of who you are is buried so deep that you’re living a lie, the spiritual disconnect causes untold stress.

Lillie is a mom and grandma. She was also an FBI agent serving as a Community Outreach Specialist who had spent a quarter of her life in law enforcement. Being a woman in the testosterone-fueled world of guns and violence is hard enough. But when you’re a woman who hears from angels and knows and feels their power, the experience is enough to make you want to flee your body and mind. And that’s exactly what Lillie did.

Denying her feminine essence in order to be perceived as an “equal” alongside her male counterparts, she traded her soft sentimental persona for the “tough cop” image. Until 9/11 when her spiritual self accessed a vision that was a wake-up call from her soul.

Lillie saw a field of angels on the Shanksville crash site of Flight 93 in which all passengers had perished. It was a sacrificial endeavor which had apparently moved Heaven itself, and the field of angels–hundreds of archangels, their wings arched up toward the sky–were assisting the brave souls home.

Much as she questioned and debated it, the vision wouldn’t let go. Lillie did all she could to disown the compelling images. But there’s only so much the body can hold inside. Soon, Lillie’s body began to crumble under the weight of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The field of angels continued to intrude into her consciousness and demand acknowledgement.

Lillie writes in In The Shadow of a Badge — 9/11 A Memoir about Flight 93, a Field of Angels and my Spiritual Homecoming, “Should I speak out and tell the world about God’s field of angels? Should I maintain my call to service and continue to risk my health?”

Through a series of synchronicities, Lillie is told what to do and pays attention to the messages. What follows is a compelling read of how the author made the commitment to spiritual surrender, choosing to follow her heart instead of her head.

To me, the message of the book is clearly this: Embrace the truth of who you really are. We are all, to some extent, guilty of hiding our real selves, masking our true identity and struggling to more closely resemble those the world celebrates. But you and I are unique. And if we choose to show up as our authentic selves, life will open up in unimaginably beautiful ways.

Lillie Leonardi discovered this the hard way. We can learn the lesson from her book where she voices her personal truth. We can choose to show up in the world as you and I, in complete alignment with our gifted uniqueness.

This book was sent to me by Hay House Publishing for review purposes.
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Mar 14, 2013 julieinmichigan
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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Mar 01, 2013 Katherine's Daughter

Ms. Leonardi worked in law enforcement and was the first female responder to the scene at Shanksville on that fateful day of 9/11. She was the Community Outreach Specialist for the Pittsburgh Division of the FBI and as such, was one of the first to witness the crash scene in that lone field. As she surveyed the barrenness of the landscape, she was overwhelmed by what WAS NOT there. There were no bodies and very little left of the plane and crew of Flight 93.

Lillie chronicles her story beautifully, delving into her law enforcement background and the prejudices that women face in such a male dominated field. There was no place for emotion, crying or falling apart by what she saw.

However, as you can imagine, the sheer sight of the crash scene floods all of the checkpoints she had developed to deal with such tragedies and loss. Her emotions overwhelm her as she gazes upon the sight, wondering how anyone could do such a thing in the name of God. Then, a light comes upon the field and a vision unfolds in front of her eyes. A legion of angels appears, led by the Archangel Michael. "This archangel stood with confidence, radiance, and an aura of leadership. The saber in his hand angled toward the ground in resting mode. I knew instantly this had to be Michael, for in my Catholic upbringing the Archangel Michael had always been depicted as the warrior. He was also known as the guardian of law enforcement."
When the vision disappears, Lillie wonders if what she saw was real. She asks God to show her a sign that she was not just dreaming. A bible on the ground, barely singed by the flames of the crash, blows opens in a sudden wind. It stops on Psalms 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd....." This is her sign. The confirmation of a miracle.

Lillie holds onto the vision of angels but doesn't tell anyone about it. For years. Finally she is diagnosed with PTSD and thus begins the long road of recovery stemming from years of denial and fear.

What touched me deeply about this book was the depth Ms. Leonardi was willing to go into her soul to tell this story. She reaches into herself again and again to face her fears and tell her story. Her law enforcement background makes a fascinating read and the effect that 9/11 had on her daughter and young granddaughter is poignant, one that any mother will deeply relate to.

My favorite chapter is entitled "Superwoman Has Left the Room." Lillie wishes to remove her symbolic uniform and cape and ask her old persona to feel safe to return. As those of us who have been through a life changing experience can attest to, it is through the shedding of our previous self that real healing and spiritual awakening can occur.

I encourage you to read and enjoy this book AND be transformed by it.

Hay House Publishing Company provided this book to me free of charge and I am not being compensated for my review. This review is my personal opinion.

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Feb 20, 2013 ginadrellack
I read this book because I wanted to learn more about the field of angels at the crash site of Flight 93 on 9/11 in Shanksville, PA. Lille Leonardi, an FBI agent serving at the crash site, has written this memoir of her personal spiritual journey in regards to this vision she was gifted with. By sharing her journey she helps others with theirs.

The beautifully illustrated cover of the book says, “A Memoir About Flight 93, a Field of Angels, and My Spiritual Homecoming.”

If you are looking for a memoir about Flight 93 from an FBI perspective, you will not find it here. Bureau policy mandates that no classified or sensitive information be revealed, and Ms. Leonardi explains this in a succinct closing note. She is highly professional in keeping any FBI-related information general and generic.

If you are looking for an in-depth story about the field of angels, you will also not find that here. The vision she was given that she shares is incredibly powerful, profound, and pointed. The book is spent on her processing the vision and its effect on her life, rather than on the vision itself–which fulfills the purpose of her book. I give it four stars out of five because I was looking for something else, but this is still a good book.

If you are looking for a supportive story of one person’s spiritual homecoming to encourage and inspire you with your own, drop everything and go get this book! (Click on any of the links below now, and finish reading this afterward. Really. I’ll still be here for you.) If you are looking for details and depth about the angels that were present at the crash site, this is not your source.

A very human example of the ever-present divine support on our spiritual journey through EarthSchool, this book is a beautiful reminder that God totally has our back. Every time we turn around, He is there–whether we see it at the time or not. Heck, He’s there whether we even turn around or not! After reading this book, I felt hugely Divinely supported and connected, and that my incredible human-ness and journey is something to embrace.

Hay House gifted me with this book in partnership with my honest opinion of it. Their Book Nook blogger program rocks, and I am grateful!
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Feb 18, 2013 honoryourspirit
It took an act of unspeakable tragedy to force Lillie Leonardi to stop living a double life. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 and specifically the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 helped crack open Leonardi’s tough cop-turned-FBI agent exterior, exposing her raw and vulnerable spiritual center.

Standing amid the wreckage of that downed plane in Shanksville, PA, she experienced a religious awakening that caused her to rethink her entire life for the next decade. From that day forward, she would no longer be able to choose between being a law enforcement agent or a spiritual pilgrim; instead, the event forced her to address the two separate sides to her life and make them whole.

In her memoir, In the Shadow of a Badge, Leonardi describes seeing angels at the crash site in Shanksville. Her interpretation of this event was that the angels were helping transition the passengers and crew of the plane to heaven and that they were also watching over the hundreds of law enforcement personnel who had arrived to investigate the scene.

Having experienced other angel sightings throughout her life, Leonardi was comforted by the sight. Yet working in a male-dominated field for her adult life led her to hide her spiritual self with her coworkers and most of the world. Only her immediate family and friends understood her devotion to the Catholic faith and how she reveled in it during quiet moments.

To her coworkers and to the outside world, she was simply a “Robocop,” and acted on calculated, intellectual reasoning alone, leaving little room for spiritual or emotional reactions. That tough-guy exterior may have helped her deal with the 12 days she worked at the crash site as a liaison with United Airlines and government agencies but it also forced her to stuff her emotions deep within.

Energy always seeks expansion so when you try holding back extreme emotion for too long, it will eventually cause havoc with the personality. In Leonardi’s case, the stifling of emotions both as a cop and as a first responder on 9/11 finally caused her to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That diagnosis (and her final acceptance of it) started her on a journey of self-discovery and healing that could help her finally quantify the two very distinctive sides of her personality.

Leonardi details her struggles with therapies to help manage her PTSD as well as her spiritual “coming out,” where she finally decides to publically share her experience in Shanksville. As part of that process, she began to allow herself to feel and act upon her intuitive/feminine persona which she had carefully controlled during her law enforcement tenure.

Personal thoughts
I am not Catholic and usually shut down mentally when I’m presented with too much religious dogma. Still, I selected In the Shadow of a Badge because I was interested in Leonardi’s experiences on 9/11. Like many Americans, the wounds inflicted on our country that warm fall day still feel fresh and raw even a decade later. I’ve read other firsthand accounts of supernatural events by first responders and wanted to see how Leonardi’s compared.

I’m also not a big believer in angels--the concept seems too Christian to me. So after I read a few pages into the book, I reminded myself that there is always something to learn and kept going to see what I could glean from the manuscript. Rather than discard the author’s message altogether, I instead went into an introspective state to clarify my own beliefs about angels and the afterlife. I have a way to go on that discovery.

I did pick out several important themes which are applicable to anyone who reads the book, whether they come from a religious background or not.

First, as I write a lot about in my blog, our world is created through beliefs. This fact is not lost on Leonardi as she deconstructed her experience in Shanksville. Universally, she understands that her beliefs are the most important thing in her life, which to her includes her deep Catholic faith. She sums it up this way:

“Our beliefs matter the most. If we accept our own inner strength, we can take the right action on behalf of ourselves and others. Our beliefs teach us to trust, and this trust guides our path.”

Another important lesson Leonardi learns through her post-9/11 life is that of safety and trust. Trust is a spiritual imperative and is the basis for living safely. The author brings up several examples of her deep trust and how it helped keep her safe during 25 years of police service. Calling on that trust became more important as she battled her PTSD. Her stories of trust and the help she received from the spiritual realm are inspirational and help others learn to trust their basic being.

Spiritual views aside, readers should take particular note of the author’s experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The disorder is a horrible residue of violent acts like 9/11, the wars in the Middle East and the recent shootings in Newtown. The general public needs to know about and understand the disorder which is beginning to affect larger numbers of people each year. I’m pleased the author shared so much of her journey with PTSD as it helps break down some of the stigma about the disorder.

Importantly, she shows that PTSD can sometimes be hard to recognize and slow to emerge as it can come about from stifling emotions for too long. Leonardi also talks about some of the current treatments for PTSD and discloses what worked and didn’t work for her.

What strikes me most with this book, however, is how difficult it appears to be to live a life that includes public spirituality. Many people sometimes feel it’s inappropriate to talk about--let alone display--a spiritual self. It feels too risky to share with others. We worry what others will think of us if we talk about our own spiritual selves outside of a church or the privacy of our homes.

When we ignore that part of ourselves that is connected to the divine, the divine will make itself known eventually. The energy allotted to spirituality, if not given an outlet, will seek expression, even if the means seem questionable as it did with Leonardi’s PTSD. A quick read of the author’s synchronistic events as she accepted both her PTSD diagnosis and her true spiritual self is inspiring.

In the Shadow of a Badge may not be for everyone. There is heavy dose of Catholicism intertwined within the pages and the author takes readers through some very personal and sometimes trivial details of her recovery. Still, if you’ve ever tried to hide your religious or spiritual beliefs in public, this may be a good read and reminder of the amazing things that can happen when you integrate spirituality into your daily existence.

FTC Disclosure notice
I received this copy of the book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

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Feb 16, 2013 tadam1000
In the Shadow of a Badge is a very honest and emotional story of person who worked closely with an aftermath of a big tragedy. Lillie is a cop whose heart is broken in pieces after what she sees on site. Yet she must move on and perform her duty as an officer. The inner struggle is going on throughout the whole book, the author is unable to find peace even years later. She is dealing with PTSD. The only straw that is holding her together is a vision that she had on site - a field of angels. This vision helps her find courage, forgiveness, strength and at last a peace of mind she lost in September, 2001.

This book is a reminder of those heroes, passengers of Flight 93 and what they did: "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13. It is a reminder of a better place and that there is life after death. This book would help people who suffer from PTSD. And personally for me it was an encouragement to talk more to my children about God and angels and pray with them. And hopefully they will remember all we talk about now and it may help them go through some difficult moments in life just like Lillie's relationship and conversations with her Dad helped her.

P.S. I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes.

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