Having Enoch around helped Mara as a child.  He shared the pain of rejection with her, which Jeremiah and I couldn’t do.  They drew comfort from one another, and taught us a lot about the value in the lives of ephemerals.  Enoch proved that a human being could walk in the way of God virtuously, which I had understood through my time with Mara’s mother, but Jeremiah had never actually even spoken with an ephemeral before. 

I think befriending Enoch helped erase the last vestiges of the prejudice Jeremiah had been exposed to through association with other angels.  The more sinful humans these angels saw, the more they were convinced that Man could never be redeemed, and that he didn’t deserve God’s affection.  They chose not to see men of virtue, those of noble character, because their sight had grown tainted by their prejudices.  Now Jeremiah, at least, was beginning to see the truth.

            Enoch was also a valuable tutor for Mara:  he had lived on Earth and could tell her a lot about it, having spent more than three centuries there.  His nine hundred years in the Library also made him a historical expert, so he fostered in Mara a love of learning and reading.  Being a good and virtuous man by nature, he was an excellent role model for my rambunctious daughter.  He fit into my household easily and quickly became a member of the family.

            One day when Mara was about seven years old, we went out to the Garden, just to spend some time outdoors in fresh air and around trees and grass.  Mara decided to take a swim in the River while we adults chatted.  The Garden was one of her favourite places, because it was different from the rest of the city and she could talk to God there.  I don’t know what they ever talked about, but I think it helped Mara even more than the love I gave her, or her friendships with Jeremiah and Enoch.  I still found myself worrying that she might be unhappy.

            “She makes me miss my children.”  Enoch said, noticing that I was watching her swim with a pensive look on my face.  “Their laughter was always music to my ears after a long day.  Children are a wonderful gift from God.  Your daughter is very special, Raphael.”

            “I know.  You should have met her mother.  Any child of Hannah’s was bound to be wonderful.” I said wistfully, remembering my lovely Hannah.

            “Yes, I’m sure that you’re right.  However, that’s not all I meant.”  He began to explain: “She is the only example of a pure child of a human and an angel.  I understand that there were many half-breeds born between the Fallen and their concubines, but that is a different situation.  Those were children born from lustful unions, but yours is a daughter that comes from a union of true love, soul mates ordained by God.  Such a union always bears special children, ones with special roles in God’s plan.  He has told me of this, and that your child will work great things for His glory.”  He placed a hand on my shoulder as we sat in the grass, and he tried to be reassuring.  “You don’t need to worry as much as you do, He’s watching over her.”

            I smiled at his words and thanked him kindly.  However, I already knew the matters he had mentioned, and they did not ease my mind at all.  I knew of Mara’s grandmother’s prophecy, and I still feared that my child would one day be placed in great danger.  I wished most sorely to know what His plan was, the part Mara played in it, and why she had to be so alone in the meantime.

There followed a very busy time for Heaven’s Host, for we had to oversee a large amount of miracle work, organizing events and acting on God’s orders.  First there was the Flood, and that was a huge bureaucratic foul-up:  every single one of my seraphim were put out of work because their humans were extinguished by the rising waters, and I had to find new assignments for them all until new people were born. 

Many angels were needed to make sure Noah’s ark survived the Flood, because it was in a lot of danger every single day, thanks to the power of the storm God had made.  While the storm went on, we angels kept the animals calm, soothing their spirits invisibly so that there would be no bloodshed on the journey.  What, you thought that carnivores would just sit idly by, neighbours to tempting, tasty sheep, wildebeest, antelope and deer, out of the goodness of their hearts? 

            Not long afterwards came the Tower of Babylon incident, where my seraphim had to alter the minds of the people, changing their languages so that they could no longer communicate.  And then there were the miracles we had to work for Abraham, the visits to him and Lot before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, and his son Ishmael in the desert, and…  Well, it’s all in the Old Testament, go read that.  I said before that I don’t want to tell old stories.  I’m not going to do it.  Let’s just say that things got really busy, alright? 

            So busy that, when Mara was grown up, she was able to start working as a junior member of the Host.  She never had much responsibility, but she would sometimes be used as a messenger between field agents, so she did get to visit the earthly plane on occasion.  Mostly, however, she worked as a research assistant with Enoch and Jeremiah in the Great Library.  They compiled all the reports the angels on assignment submitted, cross-referenced them, and typed up summaries for the department heads and executive officers, meaning angels like me and Michael, and sent along full reports of the really important events, if they thought that we needed to see them.

            As Mara grew up, she became more and more beautiful.  She kept her hair short, but it still curled wildly, and although it was a dark reddish-brown, it glowed with its own inner light.  Her limbs were slim and graceful, and she was seven feet tall, short for an angel but huge for humans.  Not that she seemed huge:  her proportions were such that she seemed perfectly herself, as graceful and delicate as a bird on the wing.  She had lovely white wings that weren’t quite as large as an ordinary angel’s, but gave her more grace in the air.  Even the feathers were smaller. 

            One day, I came home from the office to find the house empty.  Enoch and Jeremiah had been staying late at the Library, finalizing the plans for the newest wave of “human-friendly” angels, but I had expected to be able to see Mara and ask how her day was.  She had been very troubled of late, and I was worried.  I guessed that she had to be in either of two places, the Library or the Garden, and headed to see the Lord, figuring that either she was there, or He could at least direct me as to where she had gone.

            The Garden was not far from home, so it took me but a moment to fly there.  I walked on the grass, as that was tradition.  It was considered to be a form of respect to walk amongst these creations of God that were of the earth, for that was the only way to truly appreciate them.  I approached the luminous throne slowly, looking amongst the clustered trees to see if Mara was spending time there, alone in thought, but fully expecting to find her speaking with the Lord.  My expectation proved to be well founded, for I soon heard her familiar voice as she conversed with the Father and Son.

            “Why is it so hard?”  She asked, and I could hear the sorrow in her voice, “I know that this is my place, but it hurts to be here…  I love my father, and Jeremiah and Enoch are wonderful, and being with You has to be the happiest place in the universe, but I can’t always be with You, so the rest of the time I am unhappy.  There has to be more than this…  All I do all day is read the scrolls in the Library, and I do that by myself because no one here wants me.  I’m so very lonely, and I don’t understand why it has to be this way.”

            “I know how hard it is for you, My child, but remember that out of tribulation comes perseverance, and from that endurance.  Strength that will serve you well in times to come, so that you may serve Me in time.  It was planned, and you have an integral part to play in bringing My design to fruition.”

            “I’m glad that I can serve you, but sometimes it’s hard to do.  I’ll keep trying my best…  But, why is it that I have to serve alone?  Father once had my mother, and I know that it was the best thing that ever happened to him.  Adam had Eve as a helpmeet.  Why don’t I have someone like that, a soul mate?  I should think that it would be nice to have one, even if only for a little while, like my parents.”

            “Child, you do have a soul mate.  All souls do.  You are just waiting for yours.  And there are always sacrifices to be made to find your love.  Remember what it cost your parents.”

            “I realize that Mother died, and now Father has to wait until she is brought to Heaven to see her, but that waiting has not changed anything about the way he feels about her.  I’m ready, no matter what the sacrifice.  So why must I wait?  That’s what hurts, I think, that I long for him…”

            “When you want something, what have you been taught to do?”  The Son spoke up tenderly, like a teacher reminding a student of a simple lesson.

            I finally came close enough to see Mara before the Throne.  She had been standing, but now she knelt down in the grass at Their feet, and bowed her head.  Her wings were folded up behind her, each delicate wing at rest.  I realized that she was about to pray, and got shivers up my spine as this moment caused a startling remembrance of the time when Hannah had asked God for me, for her soul mate’s arrival.

            “I remember what You taught me to say:  Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name…” In Mara’s voice there was a tone of deep reverence and love, and so much hope that it made my heart ache for her.  I had never suspected that her loneliness was so profound.  She was asking for Him to help her, and the need for that help was so obvious that it made her completely vulnerable.  She was so like her mother, with the same need and desire for more than the life that had entrapped her with its routines and duties.

            “…for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever.”  Mara finished the traditional prayer.  Here she strayed from the words that the Son had taught her, and spoke the prayer of her heart aloud: “Make me strong so that I can serve You, and do my best.  Make my soul complete, help me find my mate because then I can serve you better, with a glad heart and easy spirit.  I will do anything you ask, perform any duty.  But, please unite me with him.  I don’t want to be alone anymore.  Amen.”

            I turned and left, realizing that God was helping Mara with the problem more than I ever could.  If she wanted to talk to me about her feelings, she would in time.  Until then, I decided to respect her privacy.

Time passed more easily for Mara after that day.  Life was not perfect, but she found a wellspring of patience and endurance inside herself.  She would often have a far away look in her eyes, and hum or sing softly to herself during the day.  Serenity seemed to be her constant attitude.  It was apparent to me that her talk with God had made her a little more content, and so the days and years passed quickly.

            Years became centuries, and then millennia.  Civilizations rose, empires fell, the Son was born on Earth as Jesus of Nazareth, and died to save the world.  The world went on almost without notice, immersed in war and crime and sin.  The twentieth century A.D. arrived, and ushered in the largest wars the planet had ever seen.  The world needed saving.  The Revelation given to St. John the Divine was about to begin to come to pass, so the world needed someone to pave the way for the Son of God’s return.

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