Sometimes our special angel would leave his post at The Alt-Neu Schule and pass through the town. There were other angels there. Some promised to 'God Houses' as he was and free lancers delivering 'letters' from The Lord' or just seeing the sights. Baroque era Prague was a very happening place. One saw beys and pashas on errands from Constantinople. Rome is forever, you know. Whether the empire is ruled by imperators or basileuses or sultans, the realm never ends. One saw German speaking merchants from the city-states to the west and Muscovite boyars from their own nascent empire in the cold plains and forests to the east. The whole world came to this city of spires and towers. Chimes and church bells filled the air with music. Matrons hurried home forcing troublesome geese into large, wicker goose-baskets. Neck wringing happens later. One gander saw him, the angel, I mean, and yelled - Angel! Angel! Save me! Save me!..... The angel said - Alas, that I cannot do. But I bring you tidings from a Better Place and know this, as your flesh goes in the oven, the core of your being will glide 'cross a Heavenly Pond with all your kith and kin..... ALL of them? - asked the gander.... No, just the dead ones - said the angel. I got that part wrong..... Well, that's good enough for me! - went the gander and he stopped trying to bite the fat matron's hands. Animals believe with a sincere and perfect faith. And when it was time for the matron to wring his neck and crush the bones, she did it in an efficient, practiced manner with a minimum of suffering.
Our Angel walked home, following two gentlemen from his congregation. That's how he knew it was time to return, for the gates to the ghetto were locked from the outside at sundown. Such barriers were nothing to him. He could pass through walls, floors, ceilings, root cellars, locked chests, just about everything, but the congregants, if caught outside would have been very roughly handled indeed. Split noses and severed fingers were a specialty in those parts.
A bit later, during evening service, the angel looked at the people at prayer. Almost each had a dream... a deep desire either for themselves, another, or the great wide world. And he thought about the people on the other side of the gates too, for they also had dreams.
Some prayers were answered. The book seller's daughter found a fine husband and the vintner's widow, severely short of funds and reluctant to burden the community, discovered ten lost bottles of a rare and costly Alsatian vintage eagerly snapped up by the captain of the guard (he guarded the ghetto) for a price mutually beneficial to both of them.
But the cantor's little boy could still barely walk and Mr. Amshel's lungs grew worse. And they weren't the only ones.
The angel thought - Who am I to ask for flight when the world is as it is?
Later that night, when prayers were over, the angel passed into the old library, took a book from the shelves and sat down to read, accompanied by the soft tick-tock sound of an old wall clock brought back from a synod in Speyer. He needed no light. Angels, when need be, can give off their own illumination, sometimes white, sometimes cream, sometimes a pale, pure blue.
One passage stayed with him --- Every misfortune that we observe is an opportunity for a good deed.
Now angels instinctively know that, but even they forget...
<more next time and hopefully 'next time' means tomorrow>
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