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DIGGING DEEPER

DIGGING DEEPER

I am going to shift gears just a little bit for this month's DIGGING DEEPER segment. I am
going to offer you a short story. But, it's not your typical short story. If you read it closely, carefully, and allow it's spirit to work it's way into your soul, you will be changed when you come out on the other side. I hope it touches your heart as it did mine when I first heard it.

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How It All Began !



Have you ever sat down and reflected on how all this craziness got started? Ever wonder what was going on in God's mind when He first looked out over the vast expanse of the universe and said, "I know what I'm going to do."
Well (deep subject that "well") I'm going to offer you one possibility. This one comes to me through a former acquaintance who I had the pleasure of teaching with at Jesuit High School in New Orleans. Once you got past his gruff exterior you would discover a spirituality that would rival that of the masters. Father Pete (Rev. Peter Callery, S.J.) as we all called him, spoke this story during one of his homilies. After hearing it, I have never considered creation as possible any other way! It may take you a while to read, but trust me it will be worth every second. Your heart will be filled with God's grace, and you will understand what Jesus meant when He said, "Unless you become as one of these, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven."
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Once upon an outside of time, there lived a little angel. He was young and filled with enthusiasm. He took endless delight in all of God's creation. He loved to come to the Lord each evening to share with Him the thrill of his latest discoveries; and the Lord in turn took great pleasure in listening to him as the little angel would fall asleep in His arms.
All of the other angels too loved the little angel, for he always took joy in whatever work of the Lord's they were doing. Indeed, wherever he was, the little angel spread a joy and radiance.

And so it happened that when the word came that God planned to make a new world which would be named "earth," many angels, who received assignments to help the Lord in this latest creation, petitioned God to allow the little angel to come along. So he and the other angels traveled to a galaxy on the outer reaches of the universe, to a planet near the edge of the galaxy. There, the Lord set down His overall plans before His angels and invited them not only to aid Him in the actual construction of His newest world, but also to suggest additions and changes in His plans.

The little angel was totally overcome at first by the greatness of the enterprise. The Lord had planned a paradise, a garden which contained everything that one could long for. This garden was to be constructed and then presented in all its splendor to His latest creatures. Moreover, the Lord planned a very special type of creature who were to be called "humans." He planned to give these beings the ability to appreciate the beauty and balance of creation. And so they would be put in charge of the garden to care for it and for all of the creatures in it.

The work began! Angels descended to the garden and spread out to accomplish the various tasks which had been set out for them. Because he was still so very young, the little angel was not given a specific task. He was assigned to roam about the garden to observe what the other angels were doing, to learn from them, and to see if anything could be added.
And each evening when the work was done, the little angel would return to the Lord to share with Him all that he had done and seen that day. He would murmur each night as he fell asleep in the arms of the Lord, "Humans are going to love this! Everything is just right!"
Indeed, everything in the garden was balanced and centered. And as the garden neared its completion, the Lord's angels took down to the garden's center two beautiful trees to be planted there as the symbols of all beauty that the garden was. The little angel could scarcely get over how lovely the finished garden looked, and how perfect was the final touch of the trees in the center.

And the little angel nestled near the Lord to tell Him so. "You've prepared everything perfectly! The humans are going to love it!"
Finally, the last day came. Everything was in place. And toward the end of the day, the Lord himself came down to walk in His garden while the angels rested from their work. He smiled as He walked up to one of the crystal-clear and refreshingly cold streams. Then, to the surprise of His angels, He knelt down and with His own hands dug into the clay there on the bank. Gently, He formed it into the shape of two humans. And when He was finished, He softly breathed into them His own spirit of life. And the two humans became living beings. And they were given to each other to love as husband and wife.

The days that followed were a time of endless delights. Man and woman were shown all the wonders of their paradise. They were carefully taught about the balance and center of things. They were brought all of the creatures so that they could name them and learn to care for them. And they too could not get enough of the beauty of their home.

One by one the angels were called in by the Lord and reassigned to other tasks. The Lord knew that it was time for the little angel to move on too, for he had so much more to learn. But since he was so very happy, the Lord hesitated to reassign him. Instead, He allowed him to roam freely about the garden by day, and to share his discoveries each evening.

Then one night, something happened. Just as the sun popped its head over the horizon, the Lord called in the little angel to tell him that he was being reassigned.

The little angel rejoiced in this too, for he knew that all that the Lord did was good. So he went on his way. But he took with him his precious memories of his first task, the beautiful garden that he had help make for the humans.

Time passes differently for angels than it does for humans. During this time, the little angel grew a bit in size, but he did not lose his youthful joy and wonder. Eventually, he asked the Lord about his beloved earth. The Lord hesitated, then said that something had gone wrong. The little angel then asked if he could return to see his garden again. The Lord hesitated again, then agreed, saying, "All may not seem the same to you, but also all is not what it seems."

So the little angel headed home.

He arrived early one morning just before dawn and settled himself down in one of his favorite glades in the garden to enjoy the sunrise. The sky was slowly turning from darkness to blue as the sun rose, casting its rays through the green leaves of the trees. The sounds of the night creatures quieted as the chirps and rustles of the day creatures began. All looked as lovely as it had before.

But as the sun rose higher, the little angel began to notice that something was wrong. He no longer sensed the balance and the oneness among the creatures. Instead of gladly coming to him, they scurried away, frightened by his presence. As he made his way through the garden, he spotted many of the various animals, but none came up to greet him. The vegetation in the garden grew wildly, without any order or balance or sense of overall beauty.

He decided to visit one of his most favorite spots: the stream where the Lord himself had lovingly formed the humans. As he headed for this place, he noted with dismay that, instead of giving him passage by bending out of his way or by gently caressing him as he passed by, the plant life impeded his progress at almost every step.

He finally came to the stream. But the stream no longer danced and sparkled as it had before; instead, it was now only a trickle of oily, dark water that oozed its way along.

He continued on to the edge of the hill that stood in the middle of the garden. And now he hesitated to climb the hill to the spot where the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil were. Once the garden had felt fresh and bracing, the air clear and pure with just the right touch of gentle fragrances. Now the garden felt dry, and dusty, and uncomfortably warm. And yet it seemed as if a cold breeze blew over his back.

He climbed up the hill. He could not believe what he saw at the top.

At first, he thought some horrible formations had destroyed and then taken the places of the lovely Tree of Life, and the comely Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then he shuddered as he recognized what happened.

What had been the beautiful Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was now an ugly, malignant, black vine, bent and twisted and terribly misshapen. It was reaching out to grasp and throttle and surround the Tree of Life, which was now stunted and half dead as it desperately tried to reach out its limbs to the live giving sun. But as quickly as it put out new sprouts, the encircling vine did its best to stifle the Tree of Life.

The little angel began to sob. He turned away from the sight. But as he tried to turn away the vicious vision seemed to burn in his heart. In desperation he tuned and began to look around to see where the humans had gone.

For angels, tracks remain. The little angel clearly saw the humans headed from the center toward the gates of paradise. With tears still flowing he stumbled along the now overgrown path, and he reached the gates about noon. The gates had obviously been closed for a long time. So he eased himself through the gates and moved out to discover what had happened to the woman and the man. What he found seemed to rip his very heart apart!

The humans had multiplied, and their bodies increased in size. And their spirits had decreased proportionately! Everywhere they had built structures, and made things, and multiplied possessions with no sense of the deadly effects on their world.

The little angel watched in disbelief as they humans would produce things they pretended to treasure, only to pitch them away moments later. Everywhere they tried to wrest and snatch from the earth instead of calling the earth forth to give freely. But, most of all, the humans set their hearts on things made of their own hands, and they lost the vision of the true heart of the world. It was obvious, for they cried out that they were going for what they really wanted, realizing deep down that they were only looking at the surface of things. This made the world seem shallow and empty. So, they hated the world, and thus hated themselves.

So, the humans turned their energies on destroying rather than building up! They destroyed even each other, seeing themselves only on the surface. Where they could not kill, they maimed and harmed. They were a homeless people without a way home.

The little angel wept bitterly! Almost blindly he groped back toward the Lord until he found himself wrapped up in God's loving embrace. For awhile there was no sound, just the sobs of the little angel and the loving caresses of the Lord.

"What happened," he screamed?

The Lord took a deep breath and sadly remarked, "I made a big mistake in the garden. I gave them everything, and they threw it all away. I gave them everything except what they really needed: a sense of thankfulness and appreciation. I did not realize that humans only have the ability to appreciate what they work for. Because it was so freely given they thought it had little value, so they trashed their home."

The little angel reflected. "Are the humans lost?"

"No," responded the Lord. "I myself will go down among them to show them the way back, and give them the strength they need for the journey. This journey will be much more difficult than the one they made in flight from Me. It will be an uphill struggle. So I will go down to them and I will remain with them and I will be their strength."

"When will you do all of this," asked the little angel?

The Lord smiled. He knew the little angel would ask this for the Lord knew the little angel so loved the humans. "I want you to go back down and announce my coming to them. There are some very special humans down there for you to meet. Through them I will make a new beginning. You too will stay with the humans, just as I will to help them make the right choices."

The little angel's heart leapt at the prospect of working so closely with the Lord, and at the same time he felt so inadequate to the task.

"Why me Lord? I am still so very young!"

"You are no longer as you once were. You have grown and suffered. Only those who have suffered much, are able to love much! You are the one I want because you have suffered and you love them so much."

…And so it came to pass that the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a tiny village called Nazareth to a young maiden named Mary…

…And the Word was made flesh, and He makes His dwelling among us and with us to this very day.

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The need is for each of us to recognize our truest self!
Each of us is God's angel, sent to announce the presence of the Lord in the world, the presence of His Spirit in each of us:
…our name is Gabriel