An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.
(1703 – 1791)
Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.
G. K. Chesterton
(1874 – 1936)
It was a winter’s night and the city was buried in a cloak of cold mist, waiting for the sun to warm its dark heart. It was a weekend, so early Sunday morning that it was almost Saturday night, a dead time where everything seems asleep. That is everything except young Alex, and the women he was about to meet.
Alex would often walk through the night, sleeping in late during the impersonal days, of a night Alex could feel the social machine masquerading as a world groan to a halt. The night was a free, a time that always promised his miracles, but never paid in full.
He turned a corner down a silent backstreet, and sat on the curb was the most bizarrely beautifully creature he had ever seen. Her skin was like the palest ivory, her hair and eyes as black as tar, and the wings that fluttered out behind her was of the largest, blackest feathers imaginable.
She was an Angel, in every sense of the word that Alex could think of, and as his feet carried him to her, he saw that this Angel wept tears that pooled on the glistening tarmac between her naked feet.
He knelt before and for a little time watched her weep, much as you are watching me now. She raised her eyes and looked at him, her body young but her eyes so very old. Her wings fluttered, their tips dipping and Alex looked at them awestruck. The wingtips severed, clipped, broken, an Angel most definitely downed, and he instantly understood that she was, for some reason unknown to him, an outcast from heaven.
Slowly, haltingly she spoke, her voice a dream whisper that carried to him with ease.
God’s house, it is said, is a mansion with many rooms and this the Angel said, adding that the mansion was so huge that it encircled a lake of tears.
The Lake of Sad Consequence was larger than any body of earthly water, bigger than any sea, dwarfing all the oceans.
It was the place where all mortal sorrows were consigned, the shores lapping closer to the walls of the mansion with every passing mortal year. A constant threat, the only thing that God feared, to be drowned out by sorrow.
It was on this shoreline that the Angel committed the only sin that an Angel could commit. She had looked out over the vast, near infinite body of tears, and had felt the weight of human hopelessness bare down on her. Before she knew her tears had fallen, swallowed by the salty blue waters, a momentary disturbance on the mirror still lake.
An immortal shedding tears for lost mortal passions, an Angel weeping into a growing lake of tears that threatened to flood the very house of God himself.
An Angel without detachment is the saddest of creatures, an accumulation of all the worlds’ loss in one tiny Angelic body.
Of course her lapse of control was seen and recorded by the other Seraphim in inhabiting gods house, so it wasn’t long before she was called to an audience with … well, you know who with.
Alex sat and listened to the Angel, one of her wings a large black canopy over him, almost invisible against the night sky. She explained how she was to be earthbound, no longer having the entire universe as her backyard. This wasn’t just a punishment however; it was a experience that God hoped would harden her against the sad brutality of existence. An Angel’s trial by fire.
So here we are an Angel and an insomniac, wasting away the hours of one night plucked from eternity. Sat on a concrete curb beside a solitary road.
Sometime later they began to walk, navigating the silent streets with little thought of care. Alex’s boots clumping on the path while the barefooted Angel felt the cold concrete against the soles of her feet, as she pulled the length of fabric she wore more tightly around her. Angels possessed no modesty, but the cold of earthly nights dictated the use of some clothing.
Alex and the Angel spoke, covering matters wide and diverse as he tried to drag something akin to meaning from her, but it didn’t work. The Angel seemed as baffled as he about the workings of the universe, her mind always travelling back to her unfortunate predicament.
Alex, too had something on his mind but it wasn’t her abandonment on earth, it was how to keep her there. He had met a dream and he simply did not want to wake up.
It was a thing that the Angel had forgotten, a basic rule; Angels are too rare a sight to be held by a mortal’s eye. By the time she had realised her error she knew that Alex was in love with her. And little could be done.
Angels are immortal, not built for home keeping or motherhood, no matter how attractive the prospect, or the man, was. Angels exist forever, or as good as, animated by decay, only useful, only truly alive, because of the deprivation and rot around them. What world would that be to bring a loved one?
The couple spoke all night, until the red rays of dawn could be clearly seen over the horizon, the Angel as bedazzled by the human as he was with her. Sometimes you perspective of the world can be altered within mere minutes, regardless of how long you have waited for it to happen, and as the sky brightened, the city around them waking, the Angel discovered that she did not want to leave. It was then, when that thought crossed her mind, that the heavens opened, and the platinum staircase to heaven glinted for those with the eyes to see it.
Alex poor soul as he was, ignorant of the forces working around him, saw nothing of the spectacle, but the Angel stood transfixed, a profound look of terror caught in her eyes. The next moment Alex was stood alone in the middle of the empty street, the Angel taken from him.
In heaven the Angel stood before her creator, and in a voice that was not made of words but of compassion, he asked her what he already knew.
The night had began disgrace, ignominy and defeat, and had blossomed to magnanimity, self respect and love, only to be cut down to terror by the single most miraculous sight in all creation, the staircase to heaven. What said God, speaking into her mind, did this mean? And the Angel thought, wading past her pain and distress, to find the answer that she knew would be there.
Balance, she said back tentatively, the highest pains deserve the highest joys.
And God smiled down on her.
On earth Alex’s life moved on, the days turning to months and the months to years, and in time that fateful meeting faded in his mind, eroding to a dream, which was not too far from what it was. But even in the last years of his life, up until his final days, he would sometimes wake from the most wonderful dream.
His only memory of it was an after image of dark eyes and the most beautiful smile. And when he did slip into that final sleep and the gates of the next world opened up for him, it was a dark haired teary eyes Angel that met him in the light.