looking out from within a cave

The Angel’s Story

by Karen Richter

Note to readers: I don’t often write fiction or imaginative essays (perhaps after reading this, you’ll see why!), but this was an attempt at capturing the spirit of Easter in a non-literal way. Fans of Madeleine L’Engle’s novels will recognize the idea of ‘Naming the stars’ as one task done by angels, which I borrow with much respect and gratitude.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God… in the tomb.  Cold and dark and smelling of Death.   The whole world was sad and yet waiting.  Well, maybe the waiting was just me.  It was my job to wait there and keep watch.  My fellows didn’t want this task.  It was so much the better to go on Naming the stars.  I couldn’t blame them for their reluctance to visit this shadowed place.

And so it was I who was there when the stone began to roll.  I didn’t push it and I don’t know who did.  It began slowly, almost imperceptibly – before gaining speed like all wondrous things do, crunching across tiny stones and mosses.  Then, LIGHT.

Light and singing and shaking rocks and warmth and then stories began to pour forth from the opening of the tomb.  Stories?  Yes, I could see in the early morning shimmer, the energy of human words and stories rushing out into the world.  Somehow something someone someplace sometime.

Yes, there would be stories.  Stories of walking on the road with a stranger; stories of breakfast on the lakeshore; stories of rushing wind and locked doors; stories of doubt and belief and impossibility; stories of friendship renewed; stories of fish caught and sheep fed.  As the humans caught the energy of hope and renewal, their stories took shape and form, each unique and beautiful.

That one day seemed to last for years.  The stories passed around, gathered and dispersed.  And as many as took the words into their hearts were changed.  The turning of the world changed that day.  Not faster or slower or anything that can be measured.  I can’t explain this.  It’s just the way if you ask my brethren the Name of a particular star, they will tell you.  But how many stars are there?  The numbers and the measuring and the thinking only gets one so far.  I can’t tell you the number of stars, but I Know them and God Knows them.  The Naming and the Knowing are what’s important.  So when I tell you that everything changed that day – everything! – it’s something that you have to grasp with the heart, all at once.

And those stories, the stories of that incredibly long day, have remained, lodged gently in the hearts of women and men, told and re-told and experienced and re-experienced.  But that morning, my watching done, the stone rolled away, the light dancing back into the world… it was time for me to move on.

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