Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Job 4:18

A Fiction

[To read Part One, click HERE.]

Entering the small church, I found myself on one end of a long, narrow corridor, which seemed to me to follow the same route as the center aisle in the nave overhead. On either side of the hallway there were doors here and there that seemed to lead into smaller chambers, classrooms and meeting areas, decorated with colored paper on which small children had crayoned in scenes from Sacred Scripture.

Seeing these wonderful pictures made me laugh. Adult humans, especially in this country, are constantly asserting that they don’t ‘believe’ in miracles because they’ve never seen any. What they don’t understand is that they can probably see them in their homes much of the time. The small children receive the Word in places like this one, and it takes root in their hearts. There it blossoms into spectacular visions: these are what wind up on sheets of colored paper. When pure love meets with innocence, there is a spiritual combustion.

You sightless men and women, I thought, windows into Heaven gape all around you.

From the opposite end of the hall the music trailed out into the air like incense; I breathed it in and followed after. The last door on the right side was ajar. I approached and filled the open space with my large form. A woman in a white sweater and a long skirt sat with her back towards me at a much-maligned piano, dutifully tapping out notes, her head bobbing up and down in an ongoing effort to coax the music from the throats of the innocents surrounding her.

The little children sat in a neat semi-circle around the piano, their bruised limbs curled beneath them, hands benignly folded, faces canted towards the nodding adult, wide eyes spilling over with hunger for direction …

One small child in particular saw me first, a moment before the others, it may have lasted for half a second – but in that one glance so much occurred. She revealed her nature to me – I could see she was pure, of course; but also called, destined to drag God’s beacon forward into the yawning mouth of darkness for the rest of her life. At the same time I felt part of myself fly unto her, and I knew that the very moment she laid her eyes on me she was seared with what some have called the White Burn, the permanent mark of the Heavenly encounter as experienced on earth, like the Mark of Cain but with a positive signature, caused by the same force that discolored Moses’ skin when he came down from Sinai. I am not the Master, but I do carry within me some of His Light.

This small child’s eyes shuttered open, an instantaneous reverse eclipse; then all of the children were gasping and squealing, some of them gawking openly, some hiding behind one another. The woman turned and saw me and her face blanched. I saw and felt her strength waver; she could offer no protection from me and she knew it.

In moments of extreme crisis on earth, such as war, acts of terrorism, natural disasters and so forth, it has been revealed to us through observation that the human character responds to decisiveness. A soldier on the leading edge of battle may stand next to a comrade of three years in one minute and in the next minute he may find himself surrounded by human detritus. At such times the best thing is a directive. Grab your weapon and fall back. Return fire. Attack!

The woman in front of me had arrived at her own version, in one sense, of such a moment. She knew what I was but at the same time she disbelieved what she knew. So I moved in and said the exact same thing we told the shepherds on the night of the Master’s birth. Fear not.

I had come for them. I knew that now, although I hadn’t before. The woman simply had not been called to receive the same message. So I spoke to her, quietly, and said to leave the children with me, for they are safe, and to go join the others outside that I knew would be gathering even then. They will ridicule you for what you say and criticize you for what you have done, I told her, but in your eyes they will see the Truth, which is you had no choice.

With her gone I moved forward in the small room on to an oval of colored carpeting and the trembling children, bested by their blameless curiosity, came to me and surrounded me, and because of my own nature, I slowly, painstakingly unfolded my battered wings, white feathers trailing from them like snowflakes on the desert floor, and held them out high over their tiny heads. They drew in, nine of them, as though my light gave them warmth; a few of them placed their hands on my translucent skin and shuddered as they felt the vibration of the eternal chord within my very form. It was exquisite.

We stayed that way for a time. I prayed for them and I praised the Master for allowing me to fulfill this extraordinary calling. Then I sat down right among them, so close I could feel their warm breath. They crawled, surged, pulsed around me. Their thirst was palpable.

Then the little girl, the beautiful child God had chosen to speak for them – the one God had marked with the vision of me – said:

Tell us about God.

… the door of the church is opening and the schoolchildren are coming out! There you can see – here we go – a single-file line coming out of the front of the church. And they seem to have their coats on and everything, as though someone had organized them and sent them out for recess … now, the parents … look at the obvious relief there in the body language of the civilians gathered on the other side of the police barricade … now the police or the FBI or whoever is represented by those armed men in SWAT gear, the first one has come forward to receive the children …. Janet, can you see anything more?

—Karen, unfortunately I am closer to the other side of the building, where the authorities have also been monitoring the back door, where the suspect went in … now, there, I can see the children up on the front grass. There seems to be a great collective sigh of relief down here that the suspect has released these little children, although no one really knows—

—Whoa! There, suddenly – now the suspect is coming out the back of – what is that!!

—Oh my God! Bob, get this …. over here!

—Look at that! Folks, as you can see, someone has emerged from the back of the church, dressed in white, wrapped in some kind of sheet or cape – vestments! could those be vestments!? – he’s making his way quickly on foot, very fast – he’s heading right for the police cruiser ….

—Karen, this is Janet, it’s erupted into chaos down here, a man in white, cloaked in something, has come out of the church, and the authorities are literally shooting at him – you can see the muzzle flashes I’m sure – Jesus, Bob, take cover!

—The police and federal folks are now firing on the suspect, who is running head down and underneath some kind of white cape or shield–

—Karen, I can see the man now. That is no cape or shield. Holy God.

—What did you? ... straight at one of the police vehicles, where now the sus—

—­My God!

—Oh! Oh! Oh! The suspect literally flung the officer to one side, with great force, and is now trying to squeeze himself into the police vehicle ... the branches are partially obscuring the overhead shot – Janet?

—Karen, the man, or whatever this thing is, he overtook the officer, who was literally shooting at him at the time, just, I don’t know, cast him aside, and has now apprehended the police vehicle … my cameraman got it, I don’t know if viewers are seeing his pictures—

—Janet, could you tell, did he have anything underneath the shield or cover—

—Wings, those were wings. Look out, Bob!

—The police car now containing the suspect, you can see, has launched straight forward, careening right over the lawn towards the front of the church, total disregard for anyone’s safety including his own – there you see – right past the police barricade, wildly back onto the road, several police vehicles already turning after him – we’re going to have a chase —

I sent the children forward, no harm done to anyone, but they met me with bullets. A fear-filled response—unsurprising. I enclosed my entire body when I came out, for protection and concealment, though it did little to achieve either. They cannot stop me with their projectiles, of course, but my wings were now riddled with them, perforated, and I could feel the wounds, the tears in my skin, the feathers torn and trailing away. Fragments of metal, burning, embedded into my tissue. It’s always the first reaction—especially among these totalitarian squads they deploy—the general approach is to begin by shooting and allow things to work themselves out from there.

Bouncing over the grass, avoiding the graveyard, my only purpose now was to put distance between myself and all of those conflicted souls with their murderous instincts … how do they arrive at these places from the small, pure creatures they are at the beginning, among whom I had just spent wondrous moments in communion?

Peripherally, I could see those little children falling into the arms of their mothers, their fathers, after I sent them out. Take care of them, you jaded people, let them live and breathe…you will notice the White Burn on their cheeks and you will know the power of the Lord.

Now I am back on a road driving this vehicle as fast as it goes, and they are giving chase, absurd horns blazing and so forth, they want me stopped, they want me contained. So they can do what? Inflict violence on me for some crime they believe I have committed? I have already been sentenced by the true Judge. Your human ‘justice’ whimpers its meaningless decisions to a courtroom filled with cackling corpses. Your purported authority, which has never been your own but mere illusion, went up in smoke the first time one of you had the gall to cite it.

The howling, screeching sounds and the speeding vehicles have affixed themselves to my trail. It is useless. I will outrun you all, and make my way unimpeded into exile. This is a huge, sprawling wasteland in some places, this earth; I know where to hide where you will not find me. But I helped some innocent creatures, I gave them knowledge that is not of this world …

… we now have images from several helicopters that have converged on, or over, the scene. As you can see there we have at least ten police and military vehicles in pursuit of one police car that contains the suspect who earlier on this very tense and chaotic morning closed himself inside of a church with nine nursery school children, only to release them less than an hour later with no harm. He sent the children out one end of the church, then slipped out the other side, ran through a virtual hail of gunfire to a nearby squad car, wrestled away the officer there, and appropriated the vehicle. That was the start of this high speed chase you see in these startling live images.

As you know if you’ve been tuned in, there is all kinds of speculation as to exactly who, or do I even say what, this suspect is … I don’t think there’s any question that there will be a great deal of ongoing discussion and a reviewing of the pictures from earlier to try to determine what exactly has happened here today. And whether we were capturing video of what was truly a hostage situation or whether it was actually something else entirely, something that has never been seen before, at least not during the cable news era, when we can break stories as they happen …. Janet, your thoughts?

—Thoughts, Karen? …. I … I’m not prepared to make any final assessments on the air, not at all … I know I saw something I have never seen anywhere before, that is for sure … I think it’s like you said, Karen, that there will be a lot of reviewing the footage, and I think that when people actually study the images .. well, the cameras don’t lie, do they.

—No, Janet … they never do … meanwhile, ladies and gentlemen, the suspect has made his way onto a freeway, there you see below the squad car moving extremely recklessly, with a huge armada on his trail, an endless stream of flashing lights, and I’ve just been told that the police have set up a roadblock a few miles ahead. So we may be witnessing the final scenes of this high speed drama ….

Faster, faster, they are all coming with the vehicles of retribution, persecution, when I have brought harm to no one, only good. The Master said this would happen. He said those who are hated because of Him would be blessed. And I feel the strength that brings, the power and the glory of that blessing, the self-assurance that is the right of the anointed. Now I understand: it was never banishment: this was my time to make myself known, for I was not selected on earlier occasions. It was not I who marched into Sodom and tore its structures down forever. It was not I who told those shepherds to fear not. It was not I who came to administer to the Master while he danced with starvation on those desert peaks.

But now it is clear my time has arrived, and I have seized it, I gave those children new life at their tender ages, I praise Him for letting me know what it means to mark souls for all time! Would that I had understood before what this would be like. I would have waited with more patience, conducted myself with more grace, more righteousness … but the Lord had plans for me, larger than I imagined ….

Here, now, I grip this ridiculous wheel with new vivacity, unalterable zeal, unassailable single-mindedness. Yet what is this I see before me: they have brought more vehicles together. I see a few people standing and a few kneeling down; are some of them training their guns upon me again? They have cobbled together a ramshackle wall. Do they not remember what God does to man’s walls?

I can only laugh, and I do so now, largely, loudly, and because of who I am my laughter mutates into song, and my voice bellows within the confines of this clunking chamber with its garish lights. It is the sound of a multitude; there is no silencing it. And while my song ascends my foot descends, suppressing the pedal all the way to the floor of this rolling mausoleum. Here come the vehicles, hurtling forward, see the tiny men scatter and hear them whinny with terror, here now is their pathetic wall. Give way to God’s fist!

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