The Singer, who was known as the Understanding Angel, looked down at the small culprit, and the Littlest Angel instantly tried to make himself invisible by the ingenious process of withdrawing his head into the collar of his robe...very much like a snapping turtle. At that, the Singer laughed a jolly heart-warming sound and said, “Oh! So you're the one who's been making Heaven so unheavenly! Come here, cherub, and tell me all about it.” The Littlest Angel ventured a furtive look from beneath his robe. First one eye...then the other eye. Suddenly, almost before he knew it, he was perched on the lap of the Understanding Angel...and was explaining how very difficult it was for a boy who suddenly finds himself transformed into an angel. Yes, and no matter what the Archangels said, he'd only swung once. Well, twice. Oh, all right, he'd swung 3 times on the Golden Gates...just for something to do.
That was the whole trouble. There wasn't anything for a small angel to do. And he was very homesick! Oh, not that Paradise wasn't beautiful...but the Earth was beautiful too! Wasn't it created by God, Himself? Why, there were trees to climb...and brooks to fish...and caves to play at pirate chief...the swimming hole, the sun and rain and dawn and thick brown dust, so soft and warm beneath your feet!
The Understanding Angel smiled and in his eyes, was a long forgotten memory of another small boy long ago. Then he asked the Littlest Angel what would make him most happy in Paradise. The cherub thought for a moment...and whispered in his ear, “There's a box. I left it under my bed back home. If only I could have that?” This most Understanding Angel nodded his head. “You shall have it,” he promised. And fleet-winged Heavenly Messenger was instantly dispatched to bring the box to Paradise. And then, in all those timeless days that followed, everyone wondered at the great change in the Littlest Angel...for, among all the cherubs in God's Kingdom, he was the most happy. His conduct was above the slightest reproach. His appearance was all that the most fastidious could wish for. And on excursions to Elysia Fields, it could be said...and truly said...that he flew like an angel.
Then it came to pass that Jesus, the Son of God, was to be born of Mary, of Bethlehem, of Judea. And as the glorious tidings spread through Paradise, all the angels rejoiced and their voices were lifted to herald the Miracle of Miracles...the coming of the Christ Child. The Angels and Archangels, the Seraphim and Cherubim, the Gate-Keeper, the Wing-maker and even the Halo-smith put aside their usual tasks to prepare their gifts for the Blessed Infant. All but the Littlest Angel. He sat himself down on the topmost step at the Golden Stairs and anxiously waited for inspiration. What could he give that would be most acceptable to the Son of God? At one time, he dreamed of composing a lyric hymn of adoration...but the Littlest Angel was woefully wanting in musical talent.
Then he grew tremendously excited over writing a prayer that would live forever in the hearts of men, because it would be the first prayer ever to be heard by the Christ Child. But the Littlest Angel was lamentably lacking in the literate skill. “What, oh what, could a small angel give that would please the Holy Infant?” The time of the Miracle was very close at hand when the Littlest Angel at last decided on his gift. Then on that Day of Days, he proudly brought it from its hiding place behind a cloud and humbly with downcast eyes, placed it before the Throne of God. It was only a small, rough unsightly box...but inside were all those wonderful things that even a Child of God would treasure!
A small, rough unsightly box, lying among all the other glorious gifts from all the angels of Paradise! Gifts of such rare and radiant spendour and breathless beauty that Heaven and all the Universe were lighted by the mere reflection of their glory!
And when the Littlest Angel saw this, he suddenly knew that his gift to God's Child was irreverent...and he devoutly wished he might reclaim his shabby gift. It was ugly! It was worthless! If only he could hide it away from the sight of God before it was even noticed! But, it was too late! The Hand of God moved slowly over all that bright array of shining gifts.....and then paused...then dropped...then came to rest on the lowly gift of the Littlest Angel! The Littlest Angel trembled as the box was opened...and there, before the Eyes of God and all His Heavenly Host, was what he offered to the Christ Child.
And what was his gift to the Blessed Infant?
Well, there was a butterfly with golden wings,
captured one bright summer day on the high hills above Jerusalem.
And a sky-blue egg from a bird's nest in the olive tree
that stood to shade his mother's kitchen door.
Yes, and two white stones found on a muddy river bank
where he and his friends had played like small brown beavers.
And at the bottom of the box, a limp, tooth-marked leather strap,
once worn as a collar by his mongrel dog who had died
as he had lived, in absolute love and infinite devotion.
The Littlest Angel wept hot, bitter tears, for now he knew that instead of honouring the Son of God, he had been most blasphemous. Why had he ever thought the box was so wonderful???
Why had he dreamed that such utterly useless things
would be loved by the Blessed Infant???
In frantic terror, he turned to run and hide from the Divine Wrath of the Heavenly Father...but he stumbled and fell...and with a horrified wail and clatter of halo, he rolled into a ball of consummate misery, to the very foot of the Heavenly Throne.
There was an ominous and dreadful silence in the Celestial City...a silence complete and undisturbed save for the heart-broken sobbing of the Littlest Angel. Then, suddenly, the Voice of God spoke, saying, “Of all the gifts of all the angels, I find that this small box pleases Me most. Its contents are of the Earth and of men...and My Son is born to be King of both. These are the things My Son, too will know and love and cherish...and then, regretfully will leave behind Him when His task is done. I accept this gift in the Name of the Child, Jesus, born of Mary this night in Bethlehem.”
There was a breathless pause...and then the rough, unsightly box of the Littlest Angel began to glow with a bright, unearthly light....then the light became a lustrous flame...and the flame became a radiant brilliance that blinded the eyes of all the angels!
None but the Littlest Angel saw it rise from its place before the Throne of God. And he, and only he, watched it arch the firmament to stand and shed its clear, white beckoning light over a Stable where a Child was Born. Then it shone on that Night of Miracles...and its light was reflected down the centuries deep in the heart of all mankind. Yet, earthly eyes, blinded, too, by its splendour, could never know that the lowly gift of the Littlest Angel was what all men would call forever ~
“The Shining Star of Bethlehem!”
Submitted by Merle Baird-Kerr...December 27, 2014
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