Katherine E. Rabenau
The angel stood on the hill singing in her sweet high disembodied voice, and around her the world grew quiet and still. The beasts of the field, even the flowers and trees, paused in their living to listen to the sound of love, to let it wash over and into them. And in the town below, people paused and smiled at one another. Even those who a moment earlier had been quarreling bitterly, were transformed, forgot their angry words and, shedding a tear at their foolishness, embraced one another. Somehow the angel's song reached into their hearts. The sound of her voice let them see with her eyes, and when they looked at each other, they saw only beauty and light and perhaps most miraculous of all, they saw themselves reflected back in their neighbor's eyes through the light of love. They saw only that which was highest and best in themselves and their world was transformed forever.
Most of them, that is. Of course, as there must be, there were some who felt the tug of love and fought it with all their might. These were the ones who cried "witchcraft," "Satan," and other such foolishness and ran through the streets trying to shout down the magic of the power of Love. Sadder still, when they realized that they could not shout Love down, they tried to kill it. "Where's it coming from?" their leader shouted. "Michael's Hill," another responded and off they went, clubs and pitchforks in hand, ready to fight the demon of love with all their might.
As they reached the top of the hill, they began shouting as loudly as they could, "Death to Demon-spawn," and "Silence the Dark Voice." So raucous were their venomous cries that they almost did drown out the angel's song. But not quite. And in their fear and rage they were not prepared for what awaited them over the crest of Michael's Hill. They gasped almost as one being as they approached a vision of such radiant loveliness that she - for this particular angel seemed not so tall or majestic as angels are expected to be, but was rather small and delicate - and, yes, distinctly feminine. When they talked about it later, there was much argument among them about just what they saw. Some reported a raven-haired beauty with bright blue eyes, some a young girl with green eyes and fiery red hair. Others swore her hair was like spun gold and her eyes large and brown as a fawn's. She wore a soft flowing robe that shimmered with a rainbow of colors - or perhaps, like the angel herself, simply reflected back that color which most deeply touched and comforted the eye of the beholder, for as one man remarked "did you ever see threads of such fine silver," his companion gaped at him in astonishment and said, "Silver? It wasn't silver! Why it was greener than the greenest emerald." And his old mother, standing at his side, rebuked him saying, "Why you're both fools. Her robe was as blue as the bluest summer sky with just a hint of clouds in it." And so on.
But about one thing almost everyone agreed: The expression on her face was so tender and gentle, so full of love and compassion and goodness that all the anger and hate which had brought them surging up Michael's Hill simply disappeared. Most dropped their weapons and fell to their knees, not so much in awe, as in delight. And even when they looked away, it was as though the angel's loving gaze washed over and through them, cleansing away aches and pains, not just of the body, but more incredibly, even the most ancient wounds to their spirits and hearts.
Orphans felt themselves wrapped in a mother's love and knew themselves orphans no more. The lonely and bitter felt her hand in theirs and realized that they had never truly been alone. And the poor and hungry knew that from that moment on, they would be rich beyond material measure and their hunger no longer gnawed at them. This moment in the angel's sight made them richer than any king. And the rich - well, suddenly they saw their riches for the paltry treasures they were - and, both worse and better - they felt the hunger in some of their companions and were moved with compassion and a desire to share.
And at the same time they began to feel her song. Which is, of course how one must "hear" an angel's song, not with the ear, but with the heart. Then, one by one, they began singing too so that her song became part of them and they part of her song. They understood as they sang that she would leave Michael's Hill and bring her song to others, but that she would never truly depart because she was part of them now, in their hearts and voices - and, yes, in their eyes and their smiles.
At sunset, as mysteriously and unceremoniously as she had arrived, the angel vanished. But her song lingered on.
Among the villagers, there were a few who wanted to build a great shrine to commemorate the miracle of the angel on their hill, but wiser heads and hearts prevailed. "Don't you see, we are the shrine. We must keep her song always in our hearts, and if we must build something, let it not be some fancy, empty temple, but a place of good works: a school, perhaps, or a shelter for those who are hungry or cold, a place of companionship for those who are lonely and sad. Let it be a gathering place for love and healing. And let it always and forever be a place of song."
And that is the story of the day the angel came to Michael's Hill and sang her song. If you listen carefully, perhaps one day you, too, will hear and be glad.
THE ENDThe painting at the top of the post was painted in 1889 by American Artist Abbot Handerson Thayer.