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Archangel feathers

Source: Mark 15:34


New York, London, Paris: I don't remember. The streets seemed broad, the traffic dense, the people both seething and impassive.
One characteristic of extraordinary events is that people can experience them from more than one standpoint at once. Sometimes from different locations, but most often from different persons' perspectives at the same time. Almost simultaneously, but not quite.
Individuals who experience a story see themselves as experiencing not only the event, but also something else, something we all share, something that often makes us gear down.

I was walking at the edge of the sidewalk. I saw the accident coming. I think he must have seen his mother from the other side of the street. Perhaps he was lost and was looking for her.
He darted out. He had a stuffed toy under his right arm. A light brown teddy bear. He might have been seven or eight years old. He looked like a happy child.

I saw by the dread clenching his mother's face that she anticipated how it would end. At the same time I saw the joy in the child's face: he was anticipating another ending. And then the fat yellow vehicle. The screeching of tires trying to dig into the pavement. He turned his head toward the vehicle bearing down on him. He understood. He looked surprised and a little sorry, but his spirit wasn't chilled. I believe he was thinking of his mother.

Then the impact.
An impact that stopped something moving in time. A slightly muffled impact, with no sound of a human voice. Then the child rising in the air, almost slowly, ascending in the red blood and brown fluids of an exploded body.
The vehicle, a small yellow van, is still awkwardly positioned. The front end is still tilted down toward the asphalt. From where I am, I can see that it hasn't been damaged. All the force of the impact must have been absorbed by this body, still rising.

His head is down, practically at my eye level. On his Tshirt I can see a red and brown striped stain where the bottom of his lungs would be.

The falling is faster than the rising, but the moment he begins to fall back down, the ambient noise dissolves into a great rushing intake of air, like a fast-receding wave emptying a creek.
The vacuum, the imminence of death, invades everyone's spirit. It's cold.
I notice the mother's face.
It no longer shows dread.
Only a terrible suffering. Already it's too late.

The stuffed animal lies at his feet.

He falls. He will crash down a little to the side of the pedestrian crossing. I realize that he must have been within the pedestrian crossing at the time of the impact. I realize that he was in the right.
In the right. In death.
His right shoulder touches the ground first. He is three metres away from me. The silence is so intense that I can hear bones being dislocated and know that others are being broken.
His back is toward me.
His head hits the ground next. Then one of his legs, folding partly under him in a nearly impossible position, as if twisted from the hip.
He is on the ground, no longer moving. A thin trickle of blood runs down the back of his neck.

I am now on the other side of the street. An odd fellow is approaching the scene from where I was standing. Now he is beside the child. He kneels down before him and, for a moment that seems to last forever, he gazes at him. The silence in the street is intense, as if all sound had withdrawn. He slides one hand under the boy's neck and the other under his knees. Then, slowly, he draws the boy toward him. The child is now in his arms. In my own head I hear the muffled beating of this man's heart. At first quietly, then quickly so much stronger that my head rocks with each beat. So much that it hurts.

In my arms, I can feel the soft cooling warmth of his Tshirt. The soft fibre of the cloth. He seems so light that it feels as though I am lifting a feather. His blood has the slightly sharp smell of iron oxide. It smells of life. It is a good smell.

Dear little fellow, your suffering grieves me terribly. I cannot see what happened without wanting to save you at all costs. But in my grief there is no strength, only powerlessness.
And underneath my sorrow is something that make us alike. A little like love. For no reason. Just because we're alike. Because of the grieving. I wonder why my spirit is entering into this imitation of your death, why it resonates with your pain.

You look so sweet, so gentle. So innocent. So different from the violence that has torn away your life.

But without strength, or magic, or grace, I don't know what to do.
Do I cry out? Do I do no more than shout our powerlessness to the heavens?

The inability to act empties out my spirit, leaving a void in which the movements of life are suspended. Since this has happened, I shiver to my backbone. The harsh emptiness, like a sink in my mind, sucks in the outside air with violence, leaving everything around it even colder.

I sense that you are cold too.
Your sweat has stiffened your Tshirt. You are on your way to dying.
For a moment I think you might catch cold with this wet clothing cooling your body.
That's a silly idea, a simple ritual of attentiveness.

Now a total emptiness invades me. And in that void, I remember the rock on which I am built. I am spirit: nothing more; even frail, invincible. A powerful chill invades me. My head shivers. My eyes water. I am in need of help: I don't know how to do what I want even as it is occurring. In this moment angels come to mind, messengers of God's Spirit, and I know a great hope: let them show me.

In my arms, I feel the child's body. I sense that he needs the warmth he is absorbing from me. I would like to give him life.
I believe I am ready to lose my life for that to happen.

My eyes are closed; my head is turned toward him. But it's odd: I can see what's happening around me. The yellow van is back in a level position. No, it's not damaged. Not even a dent.

People haven't moved much. His mother has stayed rooted to the spot, as if she doesn't dare move. People are looking at us with attention that is so dense I can feel it. They, too, are pure spirits. And I see that the odd fellow from earlier is now kneeling in the middle of the street and has taken you in his arms.

I realize that his mother has picked up the teddy bear. She is holding it in her left hand. I tell myself that she has begun to act, she has come out of shock and should already be beside me. Then I realize that the reason she is still over there is that something even more extraordinary must have stopped her. She is looking toward us, so I follow her glance.

The scene is strange. I see that you are in my arms and that blood is running from the back of your head onto my coat. I look dully at the bottom of my own coat but there is nothing on it. Only the fellow on his knees in the middle of the street has his coat covered with your blood.
I look away.
You leave.

"Dear God, our Father, Lord of the universe, I know you are in us. That is the only thing I know about you. But see: I looked toward you and I recognized you. Even if I am no more than the hem of your coat that drags in the mud, I recognized you."

But my spirit is empty. So empty.
And look at you! You're dancing all through the universe.
The darkness shapes your light with precision, better than a diamond cutter's sharp eye.

I have no solution. I am alone, without hope. Abandoned to emptiness.
And there is this little fellow in my arms, dying in blood and in suffering. And in innocence. I would like him not to die.

So I accept and I enter into your death.

The child takes up all the room behind my closed eyes. In my spirit, his body grows larger. At one point I meet his eyes: large, lovely eyes, startled to be there. He is at peace, and I am like a fixed point drifting on the ocean, like a masthead swinging over the water.

Lord, I remember your first sentence: in the beginning, the Spirit moved over the waters.

I can feel it now. One of them puts a hand on my shoulder, lighting up the inside of my closed eyes with a beautiful white light. Then I feel another hand, and another, each one bringing more light, white, moving, almost dense. Dear Lord, I have the impression that there is nothing left in my body, that I am a container, nothing more. Even the pupils of my eyes are of no use to me. Then I feel the gentle strength move toward my arms, flow through my hands, and finally reach the little fellow I am holding against me.

He gives a start, like a small hiccup.
I open my eyes; he is looking at me. I open my arms to let him go. He gets up. He seems to be fine. He goes to meet his mother, who is waiting for him on the other side of the sidewalk, holding a light brown teddy bear in her left hand. He has no ill effects, not even a scratch.
When his mother quietly takes him in her arms, the child turns his head toward me. He has large, lovely eyes that stare straight at me. Deep in his eyes, his spirit seems like a fixed point drifting on the ocean, like a masthead swinging over the water.

I was walking along a sidewalk in New York, London, Paris, I don't remember. I saw a fellow crossing the street at a pedestrian crosswalk. A child, maybe seven or eight years old, was crossing ahead of him. The child crossed the street and went to the arms of his mother, who was waiting for him on the other side. The fellow stopped in the middle of the street and looked up. I followed his glance. A feather was falling from the sky toward him. He opened his hand and held it out toward the feather. I saw that there was blood on his right hand.

When the feather landed on his fingers, the impact occurred.