Curiously, I felt the wind and the cool dew of the grass on my feet.  The leafy blades tickled at my skin.  I had not felt the earthly plane so personally since my time in Eden, for since then I had not made myself manifest as an earthly body.  I looked at my arms and legs, and found none of the delicate, perfect grace of an angel, but rather the shorter limbs of a man, a human, clothed in the rough garments of a shepherd.

            For a moment I felt sudden shock and alarm.  I was mortal, without my powers or wings.  The shock lasted only for a moment though, for the cool wind in my hair calmed me and brought me to my senses.  God had simply put His plan into effect, and this was the first step.  I wondered what the next would be.

            This general query was answered when I felt a disturbing spasm from within.  Again I was frightened, until it dawned on me that this strange sensation must be what hunger felt like.  As the sun gently rose into the sky, I realized that this was the hour where most men broke fast and ate the first meal of the day.  Once I understood the sensation, it was actually rather stimulating, as it was new and different.  Soon, though, its novelty wore off and I was simply hungry.

            I began to walk down the hill, in the direction the girl would always take to get home.  The shepherd’s family was the only hope for food in the desolate hills, and that was where my maiden, my goal, would be found.  What is that saying, killing two birds with one stone?  I could get rid of the discomfort being hungry caused and also find my love.

            For a little while I enjoyed walking, but it too grew dull as I began to miss being able to fly.  I found myself wondering how humans could stand having to do it all the time.  Then it began to hurt, as my feet were bare and without a single callous.  Having never needed to walk so much before, the world was wearing down my virgin feet.

            Gradually, however, I realized the progress I was making despite the pain, as the family’s home came into my view after I crested another small hill.  A stream went by the house and it flowed through a meadow.  In the stream was my maiden, bathing.  As I grew closer I realized that she was unclothed.

            I remembered her routine, suddenly.  Before heading off to bring her father his noon water, she took the opportunity to bathe in privacy behind the house in the stream.  She would repeat the ritual every evening upon her return home to wash the day’s sweat and dust from her form.  It was a ritual I had observed countless times before.  I came closer, and leaned against the side wall of the house.  I watched her, as I had always watched her, while she splashed around.  I was lost in thought about how beautiful her dark hair was, and how lovely her tanned skin.  So lost in thought, I took no steps towards concealing my presence, so when she turned to the bank to get out of the stream, she caught me staring.

            She screamed, and then grabbed her robes and rolled out of sight on the grass to the back of the house.  As I came around the corner, hoping to reassure her (I had realized my unexpected presence must have been alarming), she swung out with a filled water-bag, catching me across the forehead and knocking me to the ground.  I fell onto the grass, clutching my brow.  Pain, like hunger, was a new experience, but not one I felt I needed to take time to appreciate.  It hurt.  I saw that she was about to hit me again, so I did the only thing I could think of to avoid getting pounded.  I spoke to her.

            “Hannah, wait!” I said in her language, speaking her name for the first time, “I come in peace!  In the name of God, please let me speak.”

            I don’t know if she stopped her second swing with the bag because I knew her name or because I mentioned God.  It doesn’t matter, I guess, since either way she decided not to strike again.

            “Who are you and what are you doing here?”  She demanded instead, lowering the bag but keeping it in her hand, just in case I should have proved hostile.

            “I’m…” I realized suddenly that I had nothing to say, save for the absolute truth.  As unbelievable as it would be to hear, it was also honest, and my love for her made me feel truth was the best policy.  I looked up at her, radiantly angry and beautiful, naked as the day she was born, and confessed why I was there.  “I have been sent by God.  That’s how I knew your name.  My name is Raphael.  I’m sorry if I frightened you.”

            “God sent you?”  Her expression, which had been one of fierce determination to protect herself and her home in case I was threatening, instantly changed to a softer, hopeful look.  I had expected her to be disbelieving, simply because many people are sceptical about God’s presence, but she took my word as truth.  Faith can be a powerful thing, and she had been waiting for God to send someone for a long, long time.

            She bent down to look me in the eye.  She studied my face carefully, looking for something…  whether for signs of dishonesty, truth, or the mark of the Lord, I cannot say.  She closed her eyes suddenly, and seemed lost in thought.  It was a tense moment for me, as I wondered what she was pondering.  My heart began to throb within my chest as she sat there, unmoving.  Finally, she opened her eyes.  Evidently she must have come to some positive conclusion, for, as her eyes opened, she placed a cool, somewhat moist hand to my cheek and smiled brightly.

            “I’m sorry for hitting you, but you must admit, it was awkward.  One never really expects to be watched while one is bathing.” She almost laughed.

            So did I, out of nerves and relief.  As she had stared into my eyes, I had gazed into hers.  I found myself lost in their brown depths, and I never wanted to be found.  I was tremendously happy to be near her, to speak with her, to have her hand upon my cheek.

            “And why were you watching?  I fail to see how a servant of God can find it acceptable to view a naked woman without her knowledge or consent.”

            “I am sorry for that.  I had forgotten that I might be seen, out of habit.  I was just watching, I meant no harm.  And, what crime is there in watching something beautiful?  God created things as beautiful so we would praise His Creation.  Such is right.  We only sin when we seek to own or destroy that which the Lord gives freely.”

            She pondered my answer for a moment, her palm never moving from its place on my face.  I began to feel as if I would never want to move again, but that eternity could be spent like this, she and I together.

            “I understand your reasoning.  There are men who would feel lust and wish to possess me, but you do not, that is what you mean?”

            I nodded.  She possessed me in a way, because I loved her and thought of nothing else, but no being has any right to truly own another.  Desire for such is pride and greed, the ways of sin.  I merely wished to be with her and serve her out of love.  Lust did not enter into it.

            “Yet you say I am beautiful.  Is it not true that men lust for beautiful things?  And you said it was your habit to watch, and I am afraid I do not understand what you meant.”

            I hesitated for a moment before answering.  My love required honesty, but so much so that I revealed that I was an angel to her?  Did she need to know?  But could I honestly say that I loved her, if I was unwilling to put my trust and faith in her?

            “I am not a man, so lust is not an emotion I have.  I am an angel, entrusted by God with the duty of watching over you as your guardian.  I have known you your whole life, been with you through it all.  While I do not lust for you, my time near you has made me love you.”  I spoke with strength, my feelings for her revealing themselves.  I, a mighty archangel, became completely vulnerable for a moment, trusting a mortal woman with the truth of myself and my soul, for that truth was wound up forever with my love for her.

            Her face held an expression of complete surprise, frozen in her tracks, but her eyes positively glowed with emotion.  Somehow my words had touched into the deepest recesses of her being.  I think perhaps that she was overwhelmed at the idea that her prayer, her dream, might be coming true.

            “I know it must be difficult to believe, but it is true, Hannah.”  I continued in earnest, hoping to convince her.  “I love you, and I am an angel.  Your angel.  I can prove it.  I can tell you something no once could possibly know, because you were alone, unless they were invisible, like an angel.”

            She could not speak, so overcome by emotion, but her eyes implored me to go on.

            “I was there the day the dove fell, and the day you met the hawk.  I know of your prayer to God, your wish.  He sent me to grant it.”

            She fell over in surprise, landing in the grass.  She began to laugh and weep at the same time, her warm brown eyes shining.  I sat and watched her, uncertain whether I should say anything.  Gradually the laughter and tears subsided and she wiped her eyes.  She looked at me and smiled.

            “Forgive my laughter,” she began, almost giggling under her words, “But I find it quite funny that I’ve been waiting my whole life to hear those words, and yet I struck you when you arrived, a messenger of God.  The man, or angel, that He sent to me.  And I could have killed you!”

            With that she began to laugh again, there in the grass by the stream in the sun.

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