There once was a boy named Angel, who,
either because of his name or for some other reason,
saw angels all around him.
Whenever he looked towards the heavens, he
saw them in their rainbowed magnificence singing in
massed choirs to the glory of God. Yet he also saw
them on Earth, either in their true form or in human
guise, affecting daily the affairs of humankind under
orders from above.

In an earlier time, he would have been
considered holy, but in our time he was considered
disturbed. Even though his parents were religious, they
viewed his frequent visions of angels not as a gift but
as an aberration, and they sent him for treatment, first
to a doctor, who treated him with medications, then to
a psychiatrist, who treated him with more
sophisticated medications, and finally to a
psychologist, who treated him with six months of
behavior modification.

Nothing seemed to work. Angel continued to
see angels and to delight in their presence. As he grew
older, however, he became more cautious about telling
anyone what he was seeing, and so little by little his
parents” worry receded, and under the cover of silence
Angel began to live what seemed on the surface to be a
normal life.

Even so, underneath that cloak of silence, what
glories filled Angel”s days and nights! Whenever he
could, he stood alone in the back yard of his house
staring at angels swarming like giant birds among the
drifting clouds. Their magnificent wings beat slowly as
they congregated in the heavens, singing, always
singing their joy, though Angel could hear them only
rarely, and then only faintly, for they were very far

For Angel, the roof of the earthly sphere was
transparent, and he could see very clearly the heavenly
sphere above, even at times through the masses of
angels and saints to the throne of God, where the Lord
sat surrounded by His choirs, rejoicing in the beauty
of His creation.

One day, however, when Angel was eight years
old, a child in his class at school asked the teacher
how children on the other side of the world could
look up in a direction that would seem to us to be
down. The teacher answered that “up” and “down”
depended on where one was standing, and illustrated
this idea by having the class line up on opposite sides
of the room and pointing out that what was right to
one side of the room was left to the other.

“The same is true for people on opposite sides
of the Earth,” he said. “Gravity holds you down with
your feet on the ground. ”Up” is away from your feet;
”down” is towards your feet. Everything is relative to
where you are standing.”

This graphic lesson in relativity touched the
flower of Angel”s imagination like an icy finger,
freezing it, shriveling it up. If “up” were merely a
relative direction, where was Heaven? How could he
actually have seen angels above him? Did the heavenly
sphere completely surround the earthly sphere, so that
it was as much above a child in Australia as it was
above him?

Once Angel began to worry about the precise
placement of Heaven, his visions of angels became
fewer and fewer, more and more dreamlike, until
finally they disappeared altogether.

A few months later, Angel”s family had just sat
down to Easter dinner when the doorbell rang. Angel
ran to answer it.
At the door was a tall, well-built young man
dressed in black.

“Angel?” he said. “May I come in?”
Angel stood aside to let him in and then
accompanied him to the table, where, unaccountably,
a place had been set for him.
“Welcome!” Angel”s father greeted him as he sat
down at his place. “Everyone is welcome at our Easter
table. And your name?”
“Angel,” the stranger said. “The same as your

The little family joined hands for their usual
prayer. “Lord, thank you for the gift of life, and for
the food we are about to eat. Amen.”
They were about to drop hands and begin
eating when Angel the angel added, “And for faith in
You and in Your angels, which allows us to believe in
a world of goodness and love, and to hope for eternal
“Amen,” they all said, and began to eat.

The conversation quickly turned to angels,
whom Angel the angel maintained existed only for
those who believed in them.
“That”s impossible!” Angel”s father said.
“Something either exists or it doesn”t.”
“These words I”m speaking aren”t sound until
they touch your ear,” Angel the angel said. “Until then
they are merely waves of air. Nor are they words until
the sounds are interpreted by your brain.”
“But that”s to me,” Angel”s father said. “To you
they are words the moment you say them.”

“Just so,” Angel the angel answered. “As you
can see, they exist in relation to one”s perception of
He turned to Angel. “Do you understand?”
“I used to see angels all the time,” Angel said.
“They were all around me. Above me and by me and

“But that”s because you believed in them.”
“Do you mean that now that I don”t believe in
them, they”re not there?”
“Of course. What is there for you is only what
you believe in.”
“Aren”t some things just true, whether you
believe in them or not?” Angel”s father asked. “The
world is round regardless of whether you believe it”s

“To the contrary,” Angel the angel said. “For
you it”s flat until you believe it”s round.”
“For you, yes,” Angel”s father agreed. “But for

Angel the angel sighed. “Take today,” he said.
“It”s Easter. Now the question is: Is Jesus the son of
God? Did He die to cleanse our sins? Was He
resurrected? Does believing in Him lead to eternal
“Does it?” Angel”s mother asked anxiously. It
was the first thing she said since Angel the angel had

“Simple,” Angel the angel said. “If you believe
in Him and in His love, it does. If you don”t, it
“But it has to be either true or false,” Angel”s
father insisted. “Just believing in something doesn”t
make it so.”
“Believing in something is precisely what
makes it so. How could someone who doesn”t believe
in it have eternal life?”
“How could someone who does believe in it
have eternal life, unless eternal life exists?” ¨C139CAgain, Angel the angel sighed and turned to ¨C140CAngel. “Do you understand?”

Angel shook his head from side to side to
indicate that he didn”t.
“Come,” Angel the angel said, holding out his
hand. Suddenly they had left the dinner table and were
flying through space. All around them stars and
galaxies glowed like jewels in the distance, while where
they were was a silence and emptiness in which they
barely seemed to move.

“You were wondering,” Angel the angel said,
“where in this endless and magnificent universe
Heaven might be.”
He reached up and ran his hand rapidly down
across the blackness, as though cutting through a black
veil with the blade of a carpet knife. The blackness
parted, and there was Heaven, just as Angel had
previously imagined it from below, with masses of
angels standing on enormous pink and gold clouds,
singing praises to the Lord.

God Himself sat on a throne almost dissolved
in blinding golden light, and in front of Him Jesus
bloody and half-naked, as though just emerged from
His tomb, with holes in His hands and feet and a
long, ugly cut across his left side. Still, he was smiling
brightly, holding a pure white dove in His bloody
hands, and from the dove came rays of white light that
lit up even the brilliant gold of the area around the

Angel tried to step through the tear in the
black veil of space, but Angel the angel barred his way.
“Not yet,” he said. “It isn”t time. We must
return now to Earth.”

Instantly, Angel was sitting back at Easter
dinner with his family. His mother and father were
clearing away the serving platters and large dinner
plates in preparation for dessert. There was no place
next to him for Angel the angel. It was as if the blackclad
stranger had never come to the door.
“Do you understand now?” he heard Angel the
angel whisper to him from nowhere, from everywhere.

“Yes,” Angel thought back to him, knowing
that the angel was hearing his thoughts. “Yes, I think I
And from then on, even to the end of his life,
Angel was able to see angels both in Heaven and on
Earth, taking great pleasure in their beauty. The gift
that had almost been taken away from him was
returned, and although he continued to look up
towards Heaven, he now knew better than to wonder
where in the universe it might be.