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|This is the first chapter of a parable about a vagrant angel. Its meant to be somewhat sarcastic and critical (though that really doesn't show up in this section). Its meant to start with a serious tone and then shift to something a little more unique. This is a revised draft, but its still going through revisions as I see them necessary. Your comments are very much appreciated.||
Enduring drought had reduced the once lush grassland to the burnt yellow of a broken husk, crusted and dry. The afternoon sun, once brilliant and piercing, had stalked the lingering shadows of night with overhead vigilance, but now dwindled in a timely wilt from omnipotent white, to pale yellow, and finally to vaguely discolored red. The darkness clustering upon the western breeze boiled in a mizzly shadow to swallow dusk’s brilliance with a gurgling whisper. The air turned gray as slate to eclipse the twinkling light of the distant heavens and hold it obstinately in its wake. Sternly seeking to peek through, the infinite weight prodded an ebb of tiny drizzles to seep out and scatter in misted droplets to the parched fields beneath.
Now, in the near-absolute darkness of dampened night, there was gentle respite from the heat. The shadowed peaks of mountains, now dwarfed by the unbounded shade of the overcast, bowed aside. The crests were not large, but substantially tall enough to bear a modest cap of wind-packed snow well above the tree line. Under heat of diurnal sunlight, the frozen crystals thawed away and trickled into the plodding silt of a shallow creek bed, overflowing to fortify a deeply rich, but thin, strip of green among the burnt yellow. This olive stripe framed the clear-blue ribbon of the brook as it meandered steadily into the deadened valley. Passing through its crackling heart, it ambled into a village distinctive only for its firm agelessness and perpetual penury. These people were much indistinguishable from their predecessors and would hardly falter from that unsteady course. The smith would go to the stream and take a pailful of water to cool a steel plow hammered on the forge; and the farmer then would come to his shop and purchase it with a purseful of tarnished coins. Making his way home, he would follow the threaded knots of the stream to the edge of the village and then continue on alone as it receded deep into the crust of the earth. Though he had shopped with a watchful eye, he never seemed to realize that much of the water needed to nourish his fields had steamed away to cool a blade hardly sharp enough to pierce its surface.
The churning atmosphere provoked a moment’s reflection from the wearied community, for there was indecision in the anticipation for the much-needed shower. There had been opportunities before, but they had been fruitless and illusive, cultivating little but resentment. Even so, some were hopeful that, this time, the clouds’ provision would serve to stir their sluggish fortunes and sow the fields anew. Taking their hopes into their faith, they fell to their knees in prayer. Others were hesitant to waste their energy on such hollow dreams; but they kept silent with their beliefs, standing firm, with their lack of faith hidden deep inside. Regardless of the qualms held within, they ventured to call themselves God’s people, high in opinion but often lacking in compassion; and those who lacked the sternest faith were in their eyes weak and lost the respect of the community. To the destitute, that respect was worth more than gold, for to garner it was as close to becoming wealthy as they thought possible. They did, however, not comprehend the irony that it could often more easily bought than earned. Now, with the exception of a peculiarly diligent, or perhaps depraved few, they settled down at long last to leave the day’s stringency behind. That brief moment in which they clutched to sleep, however, was hardly savored. They would now hide teary-eyed from the haunting moans of their children’s stomachs gurgling from beneath scratchy bed sheets. Each night the portions given grew more meager than the previous and soon there would be nothing left for them to eat but the dust beneath their feet. Though a seemingly hardy people, they were beginning to shallow to the hardship of a year of famine.
The damp breeze from the west continued further and drifted languidly over the thirsty plain; floating dew began to settle slightly, and saltless tears dropped silently from the clouds. The gentle drizzle echoed growing thunder as the vaguely transparent grey of the clouds darkened to opaque black. The brilliance of distant constellations was snuffed in the indifferent swamp.
The steady rumble rolled over the soft knolls and found rest among the peaks of the leaning hillside. A band of meager shepherds scuttled beneath the boughs of balding trees as the stirring drizzle thickened to a downpour. The droplets, heavy and cold, nearly frozen, smacked hard to the ground in muddy splatters, washing it aside in streams of bleeding silt. This was more than a fleeting prospect of vacant renewal; there was true respite from the drought and they were grateful. Prayers spoken through diligence found their meaning and fortified their meager hopes. Faith to some, however, is not always what is believed but what is assumed. A steady distance from the hills, the single bronze bell of the church tower clanged in chorus with the crackling thunder, half swaying with the wind and half with the uneasy strength of the bell keeper. He was a devout, yet gawky youth lost someplace between his dreams and his beliefs. Acting on superstition to shield his people from the scorching flashes of wind-born fire, he did not realize that faith alone should have been enough for the preservation. The insistent storm would fall thick, with steady echo, until just before dawn. With the final peal of bronze only a lingering memory to his ears, the youth could at last leave the tower and lay to rest on the cold kiss of straw. The distance was quiet, and the syrupy overcast gave way to the once obscured blanket of crystalline starlight.
Though the sky had cleared, it had not settled. Streaks of silver flashed across the splendid darkness in a cherubic flicker. These were trails of scavenging angels, searching the earth for the carrion of fallen men, ravenous to guide them to the Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps they had been searching in vain since the early dusk, and only now did they find it clear enough to navigate the stars; perhaps even angels, brief vestiges of heaven, could be halted by endless murk. Or maybe they could navigate through the shadowed banks by means of their radiant halos, and had all along been dancing brilliantly, yet unseen, to the thunderous cadence of light. This daunting spectacle captivated the humble shepherds on the hillside, but they were not afraid. An angel, a creature of light and mercy, was a simple reminder of their steady faith, not of the empty superstitions of their ancestors. They worked hard and held their beliefs high, but did not rely on them; it made little sense to wait idly to catch hold of the falling strands of Heaven. Though they were meek, they were devout and made the most of what they had been provided with.
|Konfus Vogel: Cold Stone of the Bell Tower||Konfus Vogel: The Deliberation and the Vocation|
|Shadow of a Fallen Mountain|