1. Creation Day

September First.

Today is not just Orthodox New Year's Day, one year following the other as a pearl necklace of time, it is Creation Day refreshed, during harvest time to recall God filling the earth with all kinds of fruit and vegetables.

Before the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, when the earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep, even before God said, 'Let there be light', God and I were friends. We loved each other as we still do and as we always will with pure joy in each other's presence. We laughed and we sang. I sang for Him and He sang with me. Our spirits danced in curls and waves.

I was honored beyond imagination when God confided in me His plan to make the stars and the moon, and planets and galaxies, and OMG...nebula! I would have stopped right there, but not my God! He went on to tell me of His plan to make one special planet on which He would place miniature replicas of Himself that would multiply and fill one of many planets! The godlike beings would be creative, and love and laugh as we do. At hearing this, I felt less jealous when He added that they would be limited by two most mysterious things He called, Time and Matter.

I played the role of naysayer for this venture, thinking of all kinds of reasons His plan would fail. "How will You sustain light?" I asked, "And these godlike beings of yours, why do you need them when you have us angels? I am sure they will disappoint and cause you all kinds of trouble. What is the point?"

True to form, being as sovereign and autocratic as He is, God brushed aside all of my criticisms as one whisks away dust, and after describing them to me, He said that Time and Matter were necessary to control and sort these gods for His ultimate purpose which was eternal companionship. As the goal was so remote, and as I was certain it would fail, I stopped my naysaying, and instead smiled and nodded frequently.

Imagine our amazement when we beheld light for the first time. The angelic hosts gathered as forming a cloud. Sitting in darkness, we saw a great light which was followed by an equally astounding contrast, that of the return of darkness. And so the Age of Time began.

Matter was entirely unique too. The concept of fixed elements in space that never changed form or color or texture was most peculiar! What would be the point? How useless could such a thing as matter be? But again, I thought better than to second guess God, so I smiled and nodded some more, all the while determined to wait it out.

Since then, the most distressing thing to me has been that Time and Matter have grown out of proportion and seem to have no end. God assures me that Time will cease to exist, but not matter. I wonder what He means by that?

2. September 8th - The Birth of Ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God

"Lord, didn't I tell you that those material gods would be more trouble than they are worth to you? Now you not only have them stuck in time like a pair of feet fixed in cement, they are hardened in matter too! How can you call this companionship. It's pathetic! It is atrocious!"

God patiently listened to my tirade, (Gentleman that He is) and told me that I was too impatient.

"Impatient!" I retorted indignantly, "We have had to watch this rotation of light and darkness so many times that we are getting nauseous! One OR the other, I say!" Taking it upon myself to speak for the entire host of angelic spirits I added, "I prefer the darkness, the way things used to be, but if you must choose light, then go ahead and choose it!

Please Lord, I beg of you to make up your mind! We detest this thing called time. And besides, don't you see what it is doing to your little gods? They shrivel up until they can live no more. Time kills them slowly but surely! This doesn't make sense to me Lord. I don't want to gloat, but I would say that you should admit defeat, burn it all off and let's go back to the way life was before this project of yours. Please?"

God has a better friend than me. His name is Gabriel. Gabriel is smarter than me and more patient. That's why he always gets the better jobs.

Gabriel wafted himself over to me and in the regal style of an archangel filled my space with sparkles and the heavenly aroma of stardust to wash me with delightful sensations and thus to curb my frustration.

"What are you so happy about?" I retorted, trying hard to cling to my anger.

"My foolish friend, can't you see what joys lie before us? Are you so enamored by the darkness that you failed to notice Anna and Joachim swelling with child and joy over the impending birth to the Queen of queens on the eighth day of the new year? Anna will soon give birth to the Mother of God! Can you forget yourself for a moment to imagine what this means to Him?"

"What is going on?" I exclaimed, "Tell me!"

Gabriel pulsated with glee as He explained the next, most important phase of creation when God becomes a human too. I simply could not believe that our God would entertain such a foolish notion. This was the limit! What could I do? I would never go over to Lucifer's camp because unlike Lucifer, I was devoted to my God and yet I was perturbed with Him. To create these troublesome miniature gods was one thing, but to enter one was the most insane ridiculous idea imaginable.

Gabriel went on, "My dear friend, indeed you are stuck between two false worlds. The dark old days that you long for and can only live in your imagination, and a skepticism that skews your ability to see the amazing plan God is carrying out.

"Nothing less than the re-creation of the world is about to begin! This new year marks the beginning of the end of time*. This should make you jump for joy."

If an angel could fall on its face, I would have. Instead I patiently waited for the enormity of Gabriel's remarks to penetrate.

A new creation, within the creation that will overcome time...mmmmmm? How is this possible? What magic will God conjure up to superimpose timelessness upon the light and dark, day and night rhythm of time? How will God, the King and Master of spirits pour Himself into human form? Why did Gabriel stand amazed at the concept of the eighth day birth of the infant Mother of God?

There was so much to process that I wanted not to think any more, and frankly, I didn't want to feel anymore either, neither jealously nor frustration. It was time to rest and fly.

I suddenly awoke to hear shrill birth pangs that echoed throughout the universe. Angels, archangels, and all the heavenly hosts had gathered to watch with God and so I went as well to be present at the birth.

I still did not understand how this infant could annihilate time, but I took Gabriel's word for it, and gradually fell in love with this newborn infant girl all the more.

On the 8th day after New Years we (Orthodox) celebrate the birth of the Mother of God, who is the first fruit of the New Creation, as reflected in the New Covenant between humanity and God.

The 8th day is also known by the Church as the day of Resurrection. God created the world in 6 days. And on the 7th day He rested. On the 7th day (Sabbath) Jesus also rested, before His 8th day resurrection.

The eighth day is also the day when infant Jewish boys are circumsized to mark themselves as participants in the covenant between God and Abraham.

*From the moment of the birth of the Virgin Mary, major events of Christianity that once occurred in time will start to be gathered into a Holy Year that is outside of time. Orthodox do not commemorate the events, we re-live them. For example, Easter actually occurs every Sunday; when an infant is baptized it actually dies with Christ on the cross. In this way, the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, gathers unto herself a unique year that resides outside of the daily progressive rhythm of time.

3. The Bride of God

I decided to take Gabriel to heart. Apparently my bad attitude was only hurting me. I was the one, not God, who had to admit defeat. There was no turning back. It was clear that the entire spirit cosmos was becoming affected by God's new invention, Time.

Just as I was contemplating these grave matters, a wise little spirit drifted towards me. "Hello! Cheer up." said Sophie. "How silly you are to think in terms of defeat or winning. We are not in a contest with beginnings and endings. You of all spirits should know better than that. Even your new problem, this time factor, is not as linear as it appears."

A flash of lightening, suddenly illuminated the darkness of my attitude, and in it I saw an opening that I could float through. "Thank you, Sophie!" said I. "I think that has been my problem with time! I never liked what I thought was its shape, so long and narrow, like those serpents God made to terrify the woman, but with a beginning and no end in sight."

"Remember last week," Sophie replied, "when the Queen was born and Gabriel told you that she would mark the beginning of the end of time? Well, the Queen's birth also marked the conception of the Bride who plays with time in a magnificent way to show you and the cosmos how fluid time can be."

I never felt stupid before all this happened to me, but now I find myself continually at a loss to comprehend even the simplest concepts. "Bride of who?" I asked shamefully.

Patiently and sympathetically Sophie replied, "The Bride of God!"

Flying back into a tirade, I screamed, "God cannot have a Bride!!!!!"

After patiently waiting for my frequency to slow down Sophie said, "When that infant queen grows to become a young woman, Gabriel will ask her if she is willing to be the Mother of God's Son who will actually be God incarnate." Sophie went on, "She agrees, of course and the moment she agrees, Her conception of the Son of God, also marks the birth of His Bride."

"The Bride of God's Son is not one person, nor even all women, but the Bride is also known as The Church, which is a vast unity of humanity joined by and for God in heart and mind and spirit. You see, it it the spirits within those human bodies that you disdain so much that voluntarily come together, imitate God's Son and form His Bride! Isn't that absolutely wonderful!" With that I could see Sophie's frequency rev up in yellows and pinks. She went on.

"You see, God wanted a Bride who is like Him and loves as He does, just for this reason. We angels could never become His Bride. God made humankind--- to make Himself a Bride! The Bride is One like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One, and the Bride is perfect. To make you happiest of all, the Bride's perception of time is not linear! She takes certain major events and creates one holy year that is perpetually current. For Her, what had happened once is always happening. She lives through time and place and outside of it too...because She is spiritual, even though She is made up of humans, and if you were smart, you would try living in and out of time too!"

With this tidbit, my mind was spinning faster than an asteroid. "Sophie, are you making this up? You really have a very vivid imagination, and I love you for it, but you must learn the difference between reality and fantasy."

I love to hear Sophie laugh. To me Sophie's laugh has the sound of bubbles bursting out of the clear blue sea, bunches and bunches of happy bubbles. When her amusement subsided she said, "Our God is the Author and Creator of reality. If something is real and true, it is because God made it. if something is false or imaginary or even fantasy, it is because Reality has been skewed. God's story, His-story, about the Queen and the Bride and the re-creation is absolutely true!"

Sophie was beautiful. When she spoke the entire universe smiled. "Come, let's fly down to The Planet and let me show you what the Bride is doing now!"

And off we went through the beautiful darkness of the sky on our journey to earth, two angelic spirits careening past the galaxies.

The Church is known as the Bride of Christ, God incarnate. In the Bible, Revelation to John, it tells of the marriage of Christ to His Bride.

“7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”

Excerpt From: James, King. “The Holy Bible - King James Version.” iBooks.

This material may be protected by copyright.

Even though we see a Church that is factious, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant, sometimes warring on itself throughout history, God looks at the Spirit within and sees One Holy Catholic (I.e. Universal) and Apostolic Church made up of the true and righteous who successfully emulate Jesus Christ, and who form the One Bride that is the wife and will be dressed in radiant white at the glorious marriage at the end of Time....as we now know it.

4. A Glorious Discovery - The Cross

I absolutely love flying through space. Side by side Sophie and I passed the most amazing nebula and asteroids. Stars sparkled all around us. The air was thin and clean, just the way I like it. Sophie seemed to know exactly where she wanted us to land, so I didn't give a second thought to the path we were taking. As we approached Earth zillions of dust particles saturated the atmosphere, and slowed us down.

I rarely visit Earth. To be honest, I think matter frightens me. It is so different from anything I had ever known. Well, I mean air. Matter comes in so many shapes and textures, hardnesses and colors. It's just confusing. Sophie comes here all the time, and so she is used to it. I suppose that I must get used to it too.

"Wonderful!" exclaimed Sophie as we descended gradually into an expanse of arid land spotted with cedars and olive trees. When we arrived we were warmly greeted by Horatio, a fellow angel.

"Greetings, my friends, how was your journey?" said Horatio warmly.

Simultaneously Sophie said, 'Wonderful!' and I said, 'Long!'

"Here she is!" Horatio pointed to an elegant old woman who appeared strong and determined. He added, "She prays constantly; I need a small army to transmit the messages day and night. She is a tough cookie though and determined to get what she came here for."

"What does she want?" I asked.

"She came here from Constantinople, imagine that; such a long journey for such an old woman. She came to find the Cross that the Son of God was killed on over 300 years ago. We have had to help her through all sorts of obstacles to get here, and now we must help her find it."

If I had eyes, they would have been bulging, and if I had a face it would have been bright red. I looked at Sophie so completely flabbergasted that I could hardly speak. "What is this I heard him say about God being KILLED!!!! on a cross?" Just as I am beginning to accept all of this foolishness about time and matter, and even God having a Mother (geesh!!!!) and then a Bride, now they want me to believe that God was killed! I just wanted to fly right back to where I came from and hide. I could not, not in a zillion of these things called Years, believe or accept how much the God I knew had changed. How low could God go?

Sophie, feeling my anguish tried hard to console me as I cried, but I was inconsolable. My God was great and amazing, majestic beyond words, loving, perfect, brilliant! Why oh why would He endure such evil? It's as if He took himself over to Lucifer's side, and became His own enemy!

Sophie, whispering through my wailing gently said, "God is proving to Lucifer that He can even use evil to accomplish His brilliant mission. Please don't be so upset. God will be victorious, I promise you. Calm down and watch what happens with the old woman."

To quickly change the subject from my catastrophic revelation, and thus bring me into this moment, Sophie added "Her name is Helen, and she is the mother of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which is now located in a land known as Turkey. She is a queen, which is the highest level of human. She has come to honor God's Son.

With that, the focus went to the old woman. She had a retinue of workers who she was ordering around.

"Mam, how can you ask us to destroy the Temple of Aphrodite! Surely the goddess will be furious with us! Please your majesty, don't ask us to do this!"

To this, Queen Helen replied, "There is no God but our God; fear not Aphrodite. As the goddess of love and beauty, she has been protecting this holy site where the supreme act of love took place. What Emperor Hadrian meant to destroy, God used for good." It was true that Hadrian sought to defile and cover up the place of Christ's passion and hopefully also from the minds of the people. But that was a mission impossible.

Queen Helen went on, and as if talking to me said, "The Son of God allowed Himself to be killed because of His selfless love of humanity. We must find the cross of our Lord's crucifixion, now start tearing down those walls immediately! I did not come all this way to have my demands ignored!" Helen was a feisty woman.

With that the workers hacked at the marble, stone by stone. It was a grueling job, but they succeeded in dismantling the beautiful temple, while donkeys carried away the stones.

Sophie, Horatio and I hovered at the site for many revolutions of light and darkness. Helen was tireless and determined in her mission. She rarely left the site to sleep. Her servants brought her food.

Finally, early one mid-September morning, deep within the rubble pieces of wood were uncovered. The excavators spurred on by this find, dug furiously. Many other humans had gathered around. Gradually three distinct crosses were unearthed. Tears welled up in men's eyes. Women wept out loud.

"Oh, Lord," prayed Helen out loud, "please reveal to us which of these crosses is the Tree of Life." And then she fell silent to listen for God's reply.

Horatio, unable to penetrate Helen's fervor hovered over a priest named Macarius, who was also known as the Archbishop of Jerusalem (how these humans glorify themselves is truly impressive.)

As if from his own mind, Macarius shouted to his aid, "Quickly, go fetch Naomi."

After quite a while of quiet chanting and praying, two men carried in a palette upon which lay Naomi, ill beyond hope. Naomi was taken to the first, and then the second cross with no effect, but when she reach the third cross, Naomi miraculously sat up. Right before our very eyes, we saw her healed! I would not have believed it, if someone had told me how quickly this woman became well.

The cross revealed itself through this healing to be the life saving cross of crucifixion (does that make sense?)

Immediately, Helen shouted orders to elevate that cross for all to gaze upon.

On September 14th, 325 years after the Crucifixion the Cross was found and reconstructed as a monument of salvation, for those who believe and to whom God has granted sight. This awesome event, a moment of triumph of light and love over darkness is the act that sealed forever the age of Roman persecution of Christians. It rests at the beginning of the Bride's year like bookends, The Birth of the Mother, and The Mother that Raised the Cross in Victory, to hold within them the entire earthly life of the Son of God.

5. The Year of Feasts and Fasts

After watching the Elevation of the Cross, Sophie had to report back to God, but my boss, Archangel Michael, messaged me that I had to stay to become more familiar with the Bride and with humanity. I was told that my cynicism would no longer be tolerated. Imagine that! Oops, I mean, 'How nice.'

I started by floating into one church building after another all over the planet. There were some truly spectacular  buildings, and I have to admit that I was very impressed with what the little gods could do with matter, mostly stone, but even the wood they took from big old trees. I saw sculptures and mosaics galore and magnificent paintings, even on ceilings; I also liked all the different domes. These beings must be offspring of the most high God..in their small way.

The spectacular church buildings were most often devoid of the little gods. For this reason I concluded that the buildings were not the Church, or rather the Bride, but only sacred places where the spirits of the Bride gathered...sometimes. Angels gathered in there too. I met Poppy in one.

Casting aside all introductions Poppy flew up to me and said, "I hear that you are still having a problem with time and matter?"

"Yes," I replied, admitting the truth. "I don't see the point. Matter with any life in it just deteriorates to death in time. Seems pathetic. Clearly this is a design flaw that God won't admit to." I could see Poppy cringe at my words, while remembering that while God forbids disobedience and disrespect, He tolerates ignorance as the precursor to learning.

My angelic friend patiently responded, "Do you see how we are inside this grand church building, as beautiful as the Milky Way?  We fill this space with our being.

The Bride is a Spirit, like God (and like us) who resides inside of human bodies, and inside these buildings. She is in each building and in all church buildings throughout time.  The church buildings help us to understand how many spirits and many bodies can make up one Bride. Church buildings are also like the members of the Body of Christ in a mysterious way because of their service to our God. Get it?"

To pretend that I did I nodded and said, "The Bride/Church is a unity of many spirits."

Poppy nodded back and to further confuse me, she added, "Right! The Bride abides in matter, like the gods do and is also above matter and outside of time like Jesus Christ is."

The Bride is the Mother of Her parts because She is from the beginning of time. She is older and wiser than anyone on earth. The Bride teaches; She heals; She unites her children in marriage; She hears their confessions and absolves sins; She baptizes them and She even commends them to God when their bodies die. The betrothed Bride is a very busy lady while waiting for Her wedding. Oh how I love the Bride!" Poppy exclaimed. "I could write a book about Her, but I am only here to tell you about her time-crazy year."

Without taking a breath Poppy went on.

"For example, the Bride of Christ knows how important it is for each person to overcome the tyranny of the flesh. So during seasons of her Year, and on certain days of the week She prescribes abstinence from eating animal products, and sometimes even a total fast from food and water. By asking for this discipline She prepares Her children for  when they shed their bodies to be able to fly straight to heaven where we all came from and to live with Christ, God forever." At this, Poppy finally stopped talking and took a breath, but she was beaming like the sun.

Usually when I heard parts of the Story like this from Sophie I became incredulous, but this time a warm sensation of great satisfaction pervaded my angelic being. If I had to analyze why, I think it was simply for the fact that the little gods have to learn to overcome their bodies because they are essentially spirit, and that they have to mature. Learning that they were not matured in God, was my first step toward loving them.

Poppy waited patiently for my thoughts to find a calm place to land before she upset me again.

"The Bride's year," she said, is a rhythm of fasting to control the flesh and feasting to celebrate with it."

"Isn't that confusing to the little gods?" I said starting to feel sympathetic towards them for the first time, which surprised even myself."

Poppy suddenly grew sullen. "Fewer and fewer gods are obeying the Bride Mother's fasting disciplines. Most of them believe they are archaic or not necessary, I think it's because they think the fast is a legalistic demand of God, and they like to break laws when they can. Others just find all sorts of excuses to ignore them. Mostly they think fasting will hurt them, as if the Mother would try to hurt her children. They don't understand that really fasting is an exercise that their spirits need to become strong and wise. Never fasting is as bad for the spirit as never walking is for the body."

I was a little surprised at how much Poppy knew about the body. How did she learn all this? Reading my mind, she said, "I was a guardian angel for many centuries. Right now I am between people. I live in this church to speak to the god's hearts when they are worshipping. It can be a tough assignment, so many whirling thoughts!

I want you to be aware, as you study the mystical Year that there is a lot more to it than commemorating events. The Bride-Mother has constructed Her year as a sort of spiritual obstacle course to exercise Her children and to make them strong."

Then, just as quickly as Poppy flew in, she flew away from me. She didn't even say good-bye! I think that little angel needs some lessons in manners!

As I looked around at the magnificent space within this particular church called Saint Sophia Cathedral, I decided to stop thinking about Time and Matter so I could simply absorb all that the walls were teaching.

6. September 26, Feast Day of Saint John the Evangelist

I flew back up to heaven just in time for the huge celebration of the day John arrived. Never before had I seen such a luminous mass of angelic and human spirits in one light-filled place. For the occasion, each angel and person was wearing a body adorned in glistening clothes. I suddenly understood why God made light. It must be so that everyone, including Himself, could see the beauty of His creations and those magnificent works of His little gods. This massive festivity was certainly a holy glorious sight to behold!

Earth and heaven rejoiced together for the enormous party reached to the four corners of earth where liturgies and masses were being celebrated in John's honor. Saint that he was, in the midst of all the festivities, John and his army of angels had a watchful eye for brothers and sisters who were fasting and asking for his intercessory help for one thing or another. Some wanted to be healed, others asked for peace with a family member or a neighbor, and the entrepreneurs asked him to make the wheels of their commerce turn more smoothly.

The wise knew and took advantage of the fact that a feast day such as this, especially of a Saint endowed with such wealth, was regarded as an opportunity to ask a favor; it was like discovering a magical treasure chest. I was told by some very knowledgeable angels that on birthdays little gods give gifts to heap more blessings upon the magnificent gift of life. But saints, small and great, rather than receiving prefer to bestow gifts upon others on their birthdays. I suppose that is because they are overflowing with the gift of life and wish to distribute some of their happiness and their wealth-of-ability to others, especially to those who ask.

Birthdays on earth are never so jolly as birthdays in heaven. Not only was John the youngest and most beloved disciple of Jesus Christ when they lived on earth, but he has been very popular here in heaven too.

For this grand and happy day the skies were adorned in multiple rainbows that seemed to define the limits of our festivities.

Angels flew through the air like red cardinals blissfully blazing through puffy white clouds that formed shapes of luscious meringues.

Unlike the parties I had seen on earth, there was a startling absence of drunkenness and yet everyone was so merry.

God was there surrounded by His loving admirers; they were all laughing so loud that from time to time the choirs of angels and boys could not even be heard above the raucous of gaiety.

I saw the Mother of God passing out chocolate confections to children sitting in a circle around goofy saints dressed as happy clowns performing gymnastics for them. At one point the clowns made a pyramid of perky people seven layers high! When they tumbled down it looked like a kaleidoscope of colors.

As I was floating through the happy heavenly crowds, I accidentally bumped into another angel, or perhaps he bumped into me. We both promptly apologized and then he introduced himself. "Pardon me," he said, and paused for my recognition of him which should have resulted in an even greater expression of apology over the mild collision. "Don't you know who I am?" He said with fervor.

"No'" I replied somewhat sheepishly, "should I?"

"I am Sylvester, the angel who whispered the famous opening to John's gospel into his heart!" And then as if he hadn't said it a million times before, Sylvester repeated the famous words, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.... I also told him to write, 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.'"

Overhearing Sylvester, another angel floated up to us and chimed in, "Pleased to meet you. I am the angel who lived with John on Patmos and gave him the revelations about the end times and of heaven. If it wasn't for me, how would the little gods know what their lives will be like when death is no more and time ceases?"

My head volleyed back and forth between these two, obvious proud, angelic beings and deeply apologized, for what else could I do?

Suddenly we both turned to see beloved John and Christ himself glide into our view, trailing behind them was the biggest buttercream lemony yellow birthday cake I had ever seen being carried by two tall distinguished looking pastry chefs. This grand gateaux was all ablaze with candlelight.

It was time to sing, blow out candles and eat cake! I think I even spotted Marie Antoinette In the crowd. Apparently, no one was fasting in heaven!

7. The Bride's Favorite Food

It felt so good to be in heaven again! When Saint John's party ended everyone dispersed to their own places of work. The seraphim and thrones who attended the festivities returned to God's throne room and angels went back to earth to guard their people. Not everyone was abandoned and those who were, were still being watched from afar or by substitute guardian angels.

After the party, many of the archangels and other angels traded church posts with each other. Actually, the trading was a major sub-event event that would have stunned Wall Street to behold. The little gods who lived in heaven went back to waiting for the second coming of Christ to earth, and to preparing themselves for the final Judgment.

I was looking around for a place to hide when The Lord suddenly blocked my way. "Jesus Christ!" I exclaimed! "You frightened me!"

"Where were you going? Have the immature gods on earth dulled your senses so much that you thought you could hide from Me?"

"I think I have learned enough about your Bride down there. Don't You, Master?" I replied trying to sound as innocent as I could, and added, "Perhaps it is time to learn more about how She functions up here with all the gods who have died and shed their bodies. There is so much to learn!"

Jesus said, "You have been on earth less than a month and you say that you know everything about my Bride? How is this possible? Tell me, what is Her favorite food?"

I felt cornered. Her favorite food? What an absurd question, I thought. I remembered the birthday cake at John's party, but that was up here. Why did Her food matter?

"What goes into the mouth cannot defile a person," He said, "but it can sanctify one."

Jesus deftly zeroed-in on another sore point. Eating, I had to admit, was another one of those aspects of life that repulsed and confused me. It was hard for me to get used to little gods shoving plants and animals into their mouths several times each and every day; and sometimes in frighteningly large quantities. We angels never do anything like that and we have energy enough to fly through and around the cosmos.

"Okay, Lord. I certainly have no clue what the Bride, who is Spirit I remind you, likes to eat." I replied in defeat but with my characteristic dollop of cynicism.

Jesus correcting me said, "Like Myself, My beloved Bride, is both human and divine. I will give you a hint. She is in Me, and I am in Her."

I thought and I thought and still could not figure out what it could be, having not spent that much time either in the kitchens of the little gods, nor in the churches when they were populated. Besides, I always hated riddles.

"Does she like to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?" I replied half- jokingly; God seems to have relaxed His commands so much in this new age of tolerance that I wouldn't put it passed Him to allow everything, even to the point of approving His first great command which was about abstinence.

"Of course not! But you are very close! Keep thinking, my friend."

It so touched me when The Lord called me, cynical angel that I am, His friend, that for a moment I could think of nothing else.

"Wake up and get back to the point. Do you remember where you and I stood in the beginning when God made heaven and earth? Where He placed the very first pair of little god-like humans?"

I did remember this of course, though I haven't thought back on those days in many moons. Was the Bride in existence then, I wondered, and what did She eat? There were many varieties of edible fruit; could it be one of those?

Starting to grow impatient with me, The Lord hinted again, "Come now, My Bride is the Queen of Life, as I am its King of kings."

Life giving food... Frustrated, Jesus gradually brought to my mind The Tree of Life and so I said it aloud! "Do you mean that the Bride is able to penetrate through the swirling flames and cherubic guards to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life and live forever?"

With a huge grin on His face, and an even bigger sigh of relief, Jesus replied. "I am the way and the truth and the life, whoever comes to Me shall never die, but live."

"My friend," He said with great compassion in His voice. "As I said in the beginning of this conversation, you must return to earth. In several months, on the holiest Thursday, my Beloved will take you to the Last Supper, which is a misnomer, for it was the first great feast of my Beloved Bride. That meal has become Her favorite food, and the food that nourishes all the godly spirits that comprise her throughout the millennia since the beginning of time, and around my blessed planet earth with My humanity and My divinity. Now I command you to return to earth until you have become fully acquainted with My Bride. I only ask this one year of your time. Efcharisto."

I admitted defeat once again, as I always will with Him. Why do I even try to oppose or challenge Him? When will I learn? Also, why did He suddenly switch to Greek, and why did He thank me? As if I had a choice.

These were the thoughts that filled my mind and heart as we hugged and I turned to fly back to the Creation, for even though angels have no bodies, we nevertheless have minds and hearts. As I was flying back to earth, I also kept wondering what the Bride's favorite food could be. 

8. The Bride's Song

It didn't take me very long to return to the Creation. Once I landed I went straight to a church, which of course was empty of any little gods. It was very dark, but glimmers of light from the moon streamed through windows around the high dome so that I could see golden mosaics sparkling all over the ceilings and on some of the walls. In the center of the dome was a mosaic of Jesus Christ sitting on His throne surrounded by seraphim. I guess that if He had posed it would look something like this. But I have never known seraphim to be still, even for a second.

As I was flying around gazing at the mosaics of saintly gods three angels flew up to greet me.

"Hello! Pretty beautiful, eh?" They said in unison. In fact, I soon discovered that they always spoke either in unison or in harmony. It was as if they wanted to be one angel instead of three separate ones. I tried to overlook how strange that seemed.

"Yes," I replied. "Look at all these images of little gods. That one in the cornice is Saint John. Did you go to his party; wasn't it terrific?"

"We didn't go because we had much to do here for the celebration."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Let me ask you, why are these churches always empty? Doesn't anyone want to live in this beautiful place?" I inquired as politely as I could trying to practice being less sarcastic.

Suddenly as if out of nowhere spirits upon spirits poured into the great nave of the cathedral. "We all live here!" They shouted to surprise me. "We are the angels and member-spirits who have worshipped here since this church was erected. We live here and in heaven. Because we are no longer locked in time, we are no longer locked in space. How is it that you never noticed us before?"

I had to admit that whenever I had gone into a church, I was looking for bodies, and not seeing any I was blinded to the spirits of the men, women and children who were as much a part of the church buildings as the icons. I suppose one only sees what one expects to see.

The triplet angels chimed again to remind me of my mission, "Did you come to earth to learn about the year and you know nothing about the week?"

"As in music," they sang in three-part harmony, "the week is the rhythm which is a pattern that relates to a beat" and then in unison they bellowed like a drum, "Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday." The Bride uses this rhythm to build Her year around! The melody is formed by the many events, loud and soft that occur within this rhythm." And then they hummed a few more chords in harmony without any words at all.

"You must stay put for one week if you want to learn more about the mystical year of the Bride."

I quickly contemplated staying put and wondered what I would do confined in a building. I could imagine myself bouncing off the walls. Even though I did not want to stay in one place for so long, I knew that I had to. So I flew up to the balcony and landed in the farthest most pew, and started my week by sulking.

9. Sunday

As I was sitting alone in the dark feeding my frustration large sugary bits of self pity over being confined to the cathedral for a week, a transparent figure of a small man crashed my pity-party by approaching me.

"Welcome," he said with a strong Greek accent; "I am Hariloas, the chanter here for decades; The Lord allows me to return to visit from time to time. He sent me to be with you today. How I loved to fill every corner of this glorious space with the perfect pitch of praise."

To demonstrate, Harilaos bellowed out troparia of the Paraclisis to the Virgin Mary. His voice was breathtaking! This small figure of a man chanted like the largest archangel I had ever heard. I had never before appreciated the human voice as much as at that moment. In a flash I perceived how the proportion and dynamics of the space perfectly mirrored the rhythm and harmony and even texture of this little god's big voice. It was as if I was listening to the material version of what I was seeing. These talented little gods blended visual beauty and glorious chanting and a rich aroma to create a hallowed sensory space in which to worship my God. We angels never could have accomplished such a marvel.

When he finished Harilaos looked at me with a mysterious knowing smile on his face, obviously satisfied with Himself for conveying exactly what he wanted to say. "Don't resist learning, my angelic friend. Humans, those little gods you refer to, have much to teach you within these walls. Even as a fruit tree must be pruned so it can produce more fruit, so your love of the air must be severely cut back for you to comprehend the stunning beauty of the Body of Christ and His Bride. Wake-up!"

Soon after Harilaos excused himself I saw him below standing at his marble podium on the right of closed golden altar doors gazing at the round mosaic of God, the Holy Spirit Dove above him and I heard him chanting the Hymn of Kassiani.

With the gradual sun rise the stained glass windows began to show their subdued colors and the intricacies of the mosaic figures all around me came into focus. A beam of light streamed through the east windows high in the dome forming a spotlight on the pews in front of me to call me out of my seat.

I flew down to get a better look around. A man appeared, at first scurrying about unlocking doors and looking purposeful. Then another man in a long black gown appeared, and another chanter, this time a large figure of a man who reminded me of the militant archangel Michael, took Hariloas' place on the podium. The priest and the chanter recited psalms of King David and ancient prayers in this large nearly empty space. But, it wasn't empty for long; more and more of the spirits of past members poured into the room, and very gradually more of the embodied people joined them.

As the liturgy progressed I felt myself wrapped in worship. I flew behind the altar to see what the men in gowns were doing. There was so much activity as men and boys busily performed all sorts of acts. There were censors to fill to make the smoky perfume, bread being cut, various processions to conduct and sometimes they just sat quiet and still. All the while the master chanter and his troupe chanted in turns and together and from time to time the priests chanted too.

At one point the mass of people, with and without flesh, who filled the pews knelt and closed their eyes. I could not believe it, and you may not believe me, but I saw Jesus Christ, God's Incarnation right there, inside the building. I am not sure that anyone of the bodied people saw Him, but you can be sure that the angels did, and the spirit people did. Their posture made it obvious to me that they saw Who I saw.

Jesus came into the altar and covered a golden chalice with His mighty spirit hand. I saw His blood flow into the chalice from a wound in the palm of His hand, and then the liquid in the chalice rose up, and streamed back into His hand. Holy Blood flowed in a circular motion around and around it went from the chalice to the hand and back. Then, Jesus reached into His chest and pulled out pieces of His body which He cut up with His hands like bread and dropped them into the chalice, but strangely His Body was still in tact.

Then quietly and solemnly The Lord evaporated as I have known Him to do, whether He was still present or not I could not say. I glanced out from the golden doors at the people who had kneeled down and closed their eyes and one by one the young and old, the spirit and the fleshly, reopened their eyes and stood up, until the entire congregation was erect. I noticed that a few people wore the remains of little tears that had fallen from their shut eyes. I could certainly understand why. I believe that if I had eyes, they would have gushed from the sight of what had just happened in there.

The chanting and praying continued. The people joined the chanter in proclaiming what they believed about God and His Son, and they also recited in unison from their hearts a simple little prayer that Jesus had taught them.

After a while the priest appeared holding that golden chalice from which God's hand had bled! What was he going to do with it I wondered?

I then heard the priest say,"With faith and with love, draw near."

What, I thought! Why? What were the people going up there to do?

The spirit people stayed back, but many of the embodied people came out of their pews one by one and reverently stood in line. I could heard them apologizing to God and praying as they stood there, men women and children, all sizes and shapes of little gods stood patiently and reverently in line as one by one they approached the priest with the golden chalice.

As I glanced from the line to the priest, low and behold I saw the priest feeding them with a little golden spoon from the chalice! The little gods were consuming the blood of God, and eating His flesh! I was stunned; no, I was flabbergasted! I was amazed! I was humbled. I was envious. If anything at all could have whipped the cynicism right out of me, it was what I was experiencing at that moment. What kind of love would cause a person to eat and drink the blood of God incarnate?

Could this have been what Jesus meant when He asked me to tell Him the favorite food of the Bride? Oh Food of foods! Oh amazing grace! Now I can see how some of the people are truly little gods. I have heard about how in the mother's womb her blood enters her baby and that they are united by the blood that nourishes them both, but here the Bride of Christ literally flows Blood from her betrothed into her children who stand hungry and longing for the sustenance this Blood of God offers them.

I was overwhelmed. Harilaos came over and held me and hugged me. I had never before, even in heaven experienced anything so magnificent. Have you ever seen an angel cry?

10. Gestation

As the little gods were leaving the cathedral I wanted to follow them. I wanted to see where they were going and to see what they would do with the body and blood of Jesus Christ running through their little blue veins and pumping through their hearts. I wanted to see if they could make miracles too.

But I had to stay inside so I flew around the place like a pinball with wings. After a while, I stopped to perch on the railing in the dome to think. The dome was my favorite place because I could look out its windows at the sky. While sitting there all alone I thought about how the Bride of Christ could be both very material, like this building and like the embodied person, and also very spiritual, like us angels and like God, all thinking and emotions, all wisdom and love.

Suddenly, the strangest sensation came over me. I, uh me! I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but I wanted a material body! I wondered what I would look like. I wanted to wear those beautiful and colorful brocade gowns that the priests wore. I wondered if God felt this way before He entered the body that was Jesus.

Flitting out of my absurd fantasyland I looked down from those heights to notice that many people were entering the church again. In floated different spirits than before. Both embodied gods and spirits were greeting their own kind as if they hadn't seen each other in years. They were all so happy. The spirits in particular were glowing. A baby was crying. I flew down to get a closer look.

There in front of the glistening golden gates that separated the inner sanctum from the nave stood a large golden font filled with water. I know it wasn't there before because that was the spot where I had seen the priest feed the little gods with the Body and Blood of Christ from his golden chalice.

"Hi there! Remember me?" I was startled out of my mind by the presence of a familiar angel.

"Oh, hello Poppy!" I said, suddenly recognizing her. "What are you doing here?"

"I heard that you were here and came to check on you. Are you feeling any better about time and matter, and the Bride?"

"I admit," I said sheepishly, "that this place is beautiful and that some very powerful things happen here. Look over there, what is going on now?" I pointed to the font, and then up to the priest and a man holding a baby.

"Oh! This is wonderful!" Poppy shook with delight and became brighter.

"That baby is being baptized to become a little god! The Bride will place the baby into that golden font filled with warm water which they pretend is the Bride's womb. Inside Her womb, she will purify the child from the stains that Lucifer's rebellious egotism caused to disfigure and bring death to humankind. Then the baby will be born all over again.

The baby has two mothers now, its little god-mom and the Bride. Just as the baby was conceived and grew in the mom physically, the baby is conceived and will continue to grow in the Bride, (the Church you know) spiritually. Isn't that magnificent!?"

Poppy got so enthusiastic when she spoke, a little too much so, for me.

"Poppy," I said, in an effort to tone her down. "Have you ever wished you had a body?"

I succeeded. Poppy grew quiet and pensive, a side of her I had never seen.

Soon, the cathedral was dark and empty again. A few spirits of men and angels were hovering in the altar, but all was very quiet and peaceful.

After a long dreamy silence she responded, "I have been assigned to earth for a long time." she said with a whisper. "I have witnessed embodied souls perform many magnificent acts with them and with the matter all around them. I have seen them dance with joy and make magnificent melodious sounds with their voices and with instruments. Those are the moments I want to be able to clap! Don't tell God, but how I wish I could hug or be hugged. When I see the little gods hug I want to cry. It must feel so good."

After a long paused, she continued. "But we can fly and we can see God. Their bodies give the spirits that live inside of them a sense of isolation and can be the root of conflict, pain and death. I could not bear that. There is nothing that I would give up or nothing that I want enough to be worth that; especially not being able to see God.

Now let us be quiet too and enjoy the darkness while we can." And with that Poppy enveloped me with her aura. I felt a soothing warm glow all over and wondered if Poppy was trying to make a spirit-hug and if that was what a hug felt like.

11. The Week Foundation of Time

In the beginning of the second day of confinement in the cathedral Poppy and I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the darkness with several other angels and with the human spirits who languished behind after all the activity of Sunday.

Whenever the Holy Spirit of God appeared in the grand space which He did from time to time, and even once or twice in the form of Jesus Christ, we worshipped Him chanting Holy Holy Holy. There was a formal moment when Harilaos, the chanter-spirit, appeared with a choir of angels and other local spirits in the balcony filling the cathedral with the most beautiful sounds I had ever heard. The sanctuary was saturated with adoration. We needed neither the light of the sun nor of the chandeliers because Love so fully illuminated the space.

If the Bride of Christ manifests in part as a church building, then She is utterly devoted to Her betrothed here. I could tell that God was pleased.

When the sun rose again many of the spirits and angels dispersed. The activity shifted to the ground floor where busy little gods chatted on telephones and with each other.

Ladies in aprons filled the kitchen with aromas so delectable that I was reminded of my wish for a body. I was beginning to understand why the little gods seemed to enjoy eating so much.

To escape the frenetic activity I flew back up to the dome to think.

Once there, I began to wonder why it was so important to Jesus that I stay for one week; why not 3 days or 4? Remembering that God created the universe in a week, I thought it might have something to do with that.

Typical of her habit to disturb me, Poppy suddenly appeared.

A little more irritated by her than usual, I muttered, "Can't you ever leave me alone to think for myself?"

Saddened and offended, and without a peep Poppy turned and floated down to the altar. Feeling ashamed of my rudeness, I called her back.

"I'm sorry," I said, "it was just that I was trying to figure out why Jesus is making me stay inside here for a whole week, and you burst in on me just as an answer seemed to be coming. Do you know why I have to be here for a week since you know everything?" I asked, trying not to sound as bitter as I felt.

"No," she said, "God hasn't revealed everything to me because He knows how much fun we can have when revelations come gradually. I think He wants us to absorb knowledge in bits as the little gods sip the spirits of single malt whiskey, slowly to read the many flavors and to absorb the essence. Let's sip together and go farther faster and with much more fun." she exclaimed, "Wanna?"

Refusing to switch to cheerfulness as fast as Poppy, I replied dryly, "Okay, let's give it a try."

Jumping right in Poppy said, "Good, let's start with the big picture. The Bride's mystical year is comprised of 52 weeks, one revolution of the earth around the sun during which She experiences the passion of God and the meaning of Her own birth and life!"

Then Poppy paused to see if I could figure out what that implied. She patiently waited while I thought.

To break the silence before she did, I continued by thinking out-loud, "As the earth revolves around the sun, the Bride of Christ revolves around Her Betrothed, the Son of God. Mmmmm... but the earth revolves around the sun in a graduating spiral of time. The Bride of Christ (God) who, like Christ, is both human and divine has dominion over time ..."

Poppy enthusiastically finished my sentence by saying, "Right! So her revolution around the Son is a flat circle!"

I tried to picture the spiral of time and the flat circles. Poppy continued.

"Flattening the spiral of time means that all events happen NOW to expose the fullness of the meaning of each." she cried peering into my eyes.

I was very curious about how Poppy would take it from the 52 week year, to the week that I had to stay cooped up here.

Reading me again, she said, "Don't you see that the Bride's week repeats every week throughout the year, as if the events are continuing to happen because this is NOT a spiral, it is flat. The Bride has overcome time."

I recalled my disdain of time and matter, but now, instead of hating them I started to become intrigued by what the Bride was doing with them. Could She have pulled time out of its spiraling cycle with Her divine powers? Could she have compressed the 52 weeks into one week?

"Yes, on the spiral, no on compressing" answered Poppy. "The Bride still needs all 52 weeks to complete Her year, just as the earth needs enough time to complete its revolution around the sun. The Bride's week is the foundation for everything that occurs in the Bride's year, just like creation week is the foundation for the natural year."

Reading my confusion Poppy added, "God created the world in one week. The very first thing He made was Time. As you and I know, we existed before time and will exist after time.

With that, I tried to remember the order in which God created the world. If creation week formed the world that revolves around the sun, and the Bride's Week formed the world that revolves around the Son, then perhaps bringing them together would teach us something. Maybe it would tell me why it was so important for me to be inside the church for a week. Unfortunately, I didn't know enough about the Bride's week.

"Which is why I am here!" shouted Poppy with delight.

Besides envying the little gods for their ability to eat food and hug each other I decided to add that they could separate thoughts from spoken words and thus enjoy some privacy, and time to organize their thoughts.

Poppy and I together worked out the following comparison of the two foundational weeks of all time. Poppy explained to me that the Bride's week was also known as Holy Week.

On the very first day of Creation, Sunday, God made time by alternating light and darkness.

On Sunday, the Bride celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, Easter. She says that this is the beginning of immortality, the beginning of the end of time. I really like that! Both first days are light-filled following darkness.

On the second day, Monday, God made the sky.

The Bride asks her children to commemorate the angels on this day. I like that too! In her Holy Week, this is a Clean Monday, where like in the fresh new sky, there is no pollution at all! She asks her children not to eat anything during Holy Clean Monday. In Her church buildings, She chants to her Bridegroom Christ and so begins the Bride's revolution around The Son.

On the third day, Tuesday, God made the earth with its land and seas, and He made trees and all manner of vegetation.

The Bride's Holy Week continues on Tuesday with another Bridegroom service, and She allows her children to resume eating from the fruit tree or the vegetation that God created on this the third day.

On the fourth day, Wednesday, God made the sun and moon and stars in a brief mid-week turn of His face away from earth.

While God's face is directed away to the heavens, on Wednesday in the Bride's Holy Week, the betrayer of the Son, Judas Iscariot, initiates His crucifixion by turning Jesus over to the Jews who felt duty-bound to kill Him. In Her grief the Bride-mother anoints Her children with Holy Unction for the healing of soul and body. What else could She do? Every Wednesday is a day of sorrow over the betrayal and humanity's need for healing.

On the fifth day, Thursday, God made birds and fish.

While God fills air and sea, on Holy Thursday, Jesus Christ fills His disciples the immortalizing potion of his own Body and Blood at the Last Supper.

On the sixth day, Friday, God made animals and humans.

On Friday, in an unholy anti-birth of mankind, the incarnated Creator was killed. The Bride wails, and this cataclysmic event resounds on every Friday until time is no more. The Bride asks her children to abstain from meat to mourn the killing of Jesus Christ by refusing to indulge in eating that which was killed.

On the seventh day, He rested.

And on the seventh day the Bride asks Her holy children to rest too. This is the Sabbath.

"Well," said Poppy. "Did that help you figure it out?"

"Poppy, are all those events supposed to happen in here? Is this why I have to stay here?"

"Of course not silly, they are happening in the hearts and minds of the little gods, all the people that make up the Bride and Body of Christ."

"Then, why do I have to stay here? What day is this anyway?" I replied, trying not to moan.

Just then, Gabriel himself flew up to our perch in the dome and said, "I have come to bring you good tidings of great joy, The Lord has sent me to tell you that your week will never end because it is fixed in the cyclical NOW time of the Bride, (I gasped) but you may leave this church when the sun rises."

Poppy glanced over at me with a big grin and sparkle in her eye and said, "I'll beat you to the chanter's stand!" and then took off like a rocket.

12. Wandering Through the Battlefield

All night long I hovered close to a window in the dome to catch the first ray of sunrise. In the night, the mosaics of seraphim encircling the enthroned Christ came alive. I saw them fluttering their wings and taking turns flying around the sanctuary and then filing neatly back into place. Christ smiled watching them. From time to time, He would stretched His legs by standing up and walking around the base perimeter of the dome. He looked like He was concentrating, or listening to something. I didn't dare speak to Him. By sunrise He was back in His mosaic ruling over heaven and earth from His throne.

At the break of day, I flew up to His face to ask permission to leave the Cathedral and to ask Him where I should go.

"Follow My Bride, the Church. Go to wherever She may be found in the world, however, do not go in a church building. Return here to celebrate the Feast of the Archangels. You will like that. Now begone!"

I looked around for Poppy to say good-bye, but she was nowhere to be found. What a strange little angel she is.

I had a deep desire to know what day of the week it was and looked around for someone to ask. The absence of any angels or spirits put me in a quandary. I felt that I could not leave until I had my bearings, and I could not know where I stood without first knowing which day of the Holy Week I was in. What had happened to me that Time could have become so important?

I had an idea; I went down to the priest's office. Luckily, he was there sitting at his great mahogany desk. Richly painted icons of saints decorated his walls. My plan was to wait and watch for him to schedule a meeting or a sacrament. It didn't take long. His calendar opened on the screen with a big red circle around the day. Ha! Wednesday, October 30th. The day when God looked away to create the sun and moon and stars, and when Jesus Christ was betrayed by His disciple. Okay, that helped. Now to seek the Bride away from Her church buildings.

Where would I find Her? If She is human, I thought, then She must be eating and drinking and working for pay. I would go to a restaurant! As I was flying around the busy city, it occurred to me that my mission would not be so easy. There were dozens of eating establishments. As I flew through one after another, no one looked dismayed by the betrayal, nor could I tell who was abstaining from any kind of desirable food. Hamburgers, chewy cheesy pizzas, wine and beer complemented mini-parties at every table. I decided that perhaps the restaurant was not the best place to find Her.

From the restaurant scene I flew into busy shopping malls, and into court rooms, and grocery stores, but I simply could not discern the Bride anywhere. I wanted desperately to go into a church, but I didn't dare disobey. Nearly in despair, I went to the river to think and pray.

Sitting on a small desolate island at the edge of the river, I prayed, "Lord, this world is full of human beings in all shapes and sizes and ages, but no one seems to be aware of Your Bride's Holy Week.

If Your Bride is out here at all, help me find Her, please! She who is Your Body, the flesh of Your Flesh and bone of Your Bones must exist in this Your creation. And yet, no one looks glum because of Your betrayal. What should I do?"

At that moment I spotted a fellow angel wearing the form of a tall muscular man jogging toward my island. I knew he was no ordinary man because he jogged on ground and water as if they were the same. I waited for his approach to see if he had the answer for me.

"Good day, my friend. Danielus is my name. You have not been on earth long I see."

I replied with my burning question, "Where can I find the little gods who are aware of the Bride's week?"

"Oh my friend!" He exclaimed with deep compassion. "The spirit of the Bride covers the Earth within a wide variety of humans. For the most part, these little gods are attached to the spiral of nature's time rather than walking around the timeless flat circle of the Bride's year.

The risk of living on the spiral instead of the circle is that the little god could fall off. Most of the Bride's beings, or little gods as you call them do not experience the betrayal on Wednesday, nor the crucifixion on Friday. They are too high and far away from the event. Being fixed in time they think the Bride's Holy Week occurred two thousands years ago, and is commemorated once a year, whereas these cataclysmic events are actually happening now. They are remembering because they are looking back instead of experiencing. The problem with remembering is that it is easy to forget. The Bride asks Her children to abstain from animal foods to keep them aware that major events in Christ's life are happening now."

"Then how can I find the Bride out here?"

Danielus replied, "The Bride is human and divine. She inhabits bodies and buildings. Rarely does one find those who are keenly aware of the mystical flat circle of the Bride's year. I encourage you to seek them out, but don't become discouraged, they are few. Most little gods cling to the spiral but nevertheless are flesh of Christ's flesh and bones of His bones.

How ironic! You pretend to disdain time and matter, and yet you look to them to find the lovely spirit of the Bride. Blind yourself so you may see Her. I must go now, I am on river patrol. I sense someone is in trouble. Farewell. When we meet again, you must be sure to tell me how you found Her out here."

And with that Danielus jogged away from me.

I sensed that he was right. I had to stop seeing in order to find the Spirit of the Bride away from the church building.

No one had bothered to tell me about Halloween. Back in the city streets I ran into goblins and ghosts everywhere! I even saw many of the devil's children walking around as unashamed as bats in the night. Lucifer was having a field day with it all. What had the world suddenly come to?

"God!" I screamed as loud as I could. "Come here at once and do something about this!!!"

A voice spoke to me and it said. Close your eyes!

I obeyed to find myself in a great swirl of quantum matter. There were fields and subatomic particles that formed webs upon webs of relationships with common purposes. Light and dark hues in a myriad of colors formed patterns from these relationships. The life force was feeding on streams of new information, of knowledge generated by God.

And then I saw the Bride in battle with the armies of Lucifer. The great divider was cutting through the fields and particles and the webs of relationships, even the Bride's networks, to cause canyons of hostility; explosions in the canyons erupted, raining hot caustic debris that fell and burned everything in the path of its descent.

The Bride was losing ground. Her system of order and reason was being challenged from every side. Her forces were strong and vibrant but disparate. They pulled from the past, and from the present but couldn't seem to gain ground. I thought that She would be completely consumed by the divider and by the burning debris until the weakness of the divider suddenly became apparent to me.

I don't know if I was on the spiral of time or on the flat circle of the mystical year, but I perceived the canyons of hostilities shrink. Voids created by death and destruction were filling with particles of luminous consciousness and I could see that the battle was unsustainable.

The webs of relationships that formed the armies of the Bride, even though they looked so small were stable and flat and strong; oh so strong. The spiral upon which Her wandering children had perched was collapsing. With the collapse, Her powerful flat circle grew thicker and thicker and wider and wider and stronger and stronger beginning and ending with Sunday.

When my sight returned to me, it brought with it the realization that Jesus Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday created the mystical year of the Bride by repairing the road to immortality. Without death and without darkness time cannot exist as it does on earth, on the spiral of time.

The flat circle of the year begins to transform time to prepare the gods for that immortal life. Time was made on the Sunday of creation, and time was transformed on Easter Sunday, the beginning of the new creation.

I have heard it said that Christ conquered death by death, but I now saw how death included the Pharisees' fear of the Romans, like the fear of any soul of its secular government, and that death included the misunderstanding of Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees and priests of their God. The spirit of the law won and the angels rejoiced.

I saw every particle of faith in God radiate like the sun. I saw that His power to create and sustain life with incrementally expanding knowledge was a living particle, and that the goblins and demons of doubt, of undisciplined time-traveling, of doubting departure from the Bride became a vacuum, a sort of black hole into which death itself would fall until it existed no more anywhere in the universe.

The voice that told me to close my eyes said, "The divider will continue until he ultimately divides himself from himself and is no more."

If there is one foundational week, Creation week become Holy Week, echoed by the hundreds of thousands that have followed, then there is only one day of that week that rises heads above the other six. It is the first one in which time both began and ended, Sunday, the Lord's day. God keeps the light and tosses the darkness, and time is no more. Now we can all rest.

13. November 8 - The Feast of Angels

Jesus was right! I was glad to return to the Cathedral and the flat mystical circle of time for the celebration of the feast-day of the archangels Michael and Gabriel and the heavenly hosts. The awareness of a common purpose and of ultimate victory in this bloody long battle, and the camaraderie that is present in the Cathedral all make me feel safe and secure, and peaceful here.

I realized that the church building is a gathering place for little gods to enjoy a respite from the conflicts of the outside world where the spiral of time and a kaleidoscope of good and evil create a strong sense of chaos. The church building is a place for them to be healed from the wounds they may have incurred, to worship God together, and to receive His mystical potion for strength that they will need when they go back out.

Actually it was not peaceful in the cathedral today. I entered through the front door to find the place crowded with spirits of men and women and hundreds of angels that watched over them throughout their earthly lives. What a holy spiritual convention this was. The gamut of heavenly hosts was pouring in through every opening. I spotted a few Thrones who travelled all the way from God's throne room to attend. Cherubim and Seraphim were flying around the dome comparing themselves to the mosaics and laughing.

"Welcome back! How did it go out there!"

"Oh! hello Poppy, I looked for you to say good bye, but couldn't find you anywhere. It was, well horrible. The Lord gave me a vision of the spiritual battle. I never did discern the Bride or anyone who was aware of the mystical year. I am just so happy that I could return."

"Oh, it's not that bad. You will get used to it out there, and when you find the Bride in the field you will respect Her all the more for being the warrior She is. Now come, the service is about to begin!"

Poppy and I looked around for a place to perch. The dome was packed in tight, as you can imagine it would be. We finally managed to find air-space in the balcony. After we settled in, I looked down to see the iconostasis sparkling. The royal doors were shut, but the light behind them, in the altar, bounced off the golden doors to radiate beams of light out into the nave.

The chanters with their master chanter were tuning their voices. Sophicles, Guardian Angel of the Cathedral, was particularly busy greeting his guests and making sure that the hierarchy was being respected everywhere.

The parishioners were also entering the Cathedral a few at a time, one here, a couple there taking their usual places in the pews. Of course they couldn't see all the angels which was too bad because their numbers were few, and I suspected that they were sad that more of their kind were not here to join in the worship.

Many guardian angels of absent parishioners looked around to see if their people would be arriving in time, or at all. This being their only time off for the year; they hoped that for this one hour, out of 365 24-hour shifts in the year, that they would receive reciprocal attention, but most found none. The look of disappointment on angelic faces could have melted a rock.

Just as the celebration of the liturgy was about to begin Michael and Gabriel appeared together, each opening a side of the Royal Doors. The littlest angels in the pews looked at each other and giggled over the excitement of being in the presence of Michael and Gabriel and the higher heavenly hosts. Many of them had come from the streets, from Anacostia and Southeast where they protected the homeless and rarely witnessed such grandeur.

All eyes turned to face the guardian angel of The United States of America as he made his tardy but regal entrance. Being the Cathedral of the Nation's Capitol he came here to celebrate. What an honor thought all the lowly little angels.

The priests were clothed in their most glorious vestments as they made their appearance and began to lead the worship of the Holy Trinity and then to honor the heavenly hosts as they said "for protecting their Cathedral and their parishioners, and indeed the whole country, they who always behold the face of God in the Heavens."

The celebration could not have been more glorious. Tears streamed from angel-eyes over the gratitude they could see emanating from the hearts of the little gods in the pews and from the spirits of deceased gods, as well as from the chanters and the priests and altar boys and deacons.

The priests knew above all, what a difficult assignment it is to protect their flock who are embattled day and night. Both priests were well aware that this annual feast day of gratitude was paltry compensation for the enormous benefit that the angels bestow on their Church and their little gods.

"Oh, isn't this wonderful!" said Poppy vibrating faster than ever. "Gratitude makes all the hard work and conflict somehow seem worth while." As Poppy said this I tried to think about how her job was hard. After all, I had only seen her flittering around churches.

Poppy didn't stop while I was thinking, "Isn't it beautiful how gratitude unites the giver and the recipient! They become One, like God is One!" Poppy's enthusiasm made me laugh. I wondered how such a thought could be new to her.

The Master Chanter, sounding like Archangel Michael himself, belted out his lines with perfect pitch and tone demonstrating with his voice adherence to perfection in Christ that the Bride demands of Her little gods.

For example, he chanted, "O Commanders of the Heavenly Host, we the unworthy beseech you, that through your entreaties you will fortify us, guarding us in the shelter of the wings of your ethereal glory, even as we fervently bow before you crying: "Deliver us from all danger, as Commanders of the Powers on high! "

By the end of the liturgy the entire cathedral, body and soul and spirit blended perfectly so that I think I saw the foundation of the church building rise out of the ground. The heavenly congregation spirit and flesh alike filed out with an afterglow on each radiant face.

Except me and Poppy. I looked at her and said, "Okay, what next?"

Poppy replied, "We have one week until Advent begins. What do you wanna do? "

"Poppy," I replied half jokingly, "What is sleep? I think I'd like to try it."

14. Gone Visiting

I didn't need Jesus to evict me this time. Inspired by all the street angels I decided for myself to leave the cathedral and try again to find the Bride in the world. Exiting the building I felt a distinctly November chill in the air and looked back and forth between the Gothic cathedral to my right with its square gingerbread spires, and big brick homes to my left and wondered which direction I should take. In the midst of cogitating, another straggler-angel approached me from behind.

Observing me ponder Pineal politely asked, "May I help you?"

"Oh, hello, I want to find Christ's Bride, the Church, in the world to learn more about Her mystical year. I tried once and failed and now have mustered the courage to try again. Any suggestions?"

"I can do better than suggest, follow me," replied Pineal. In military fashion, Pineal maintained a wingspan length in front of me. "Uh, where are we going?" I shouted to be heard over the speeding traffic.

Pineal stopped and turned to face me before saying, "I am taking you to the home of one of the little gods, as you call them, when in reality they are The Bride, inasmuch as a finger is the hand it is attached to. Without the fingers what is a hand but a useless stump? This elderly man lives alone since his long ailing wife passed away three full moons ago. He fills with prayer the emptied hours once spent in nursing her. His prayers have opened gateways through which illustrious souls have come to visit him. Let's join them. With that, Pineal turned back and flew up Massachusetts Avenue with me trailing like the tail of a kite.

In a flash we arrived at a mature tree-lined street of fifty year old homes that had been planted into a rolling hill, many of them now heavily clothed with moss and ivy.

Pineal boldly flew up to the front bay windows of house after house peeking in until he said, "This is it! Let's go. I followed him through the window to find an old man with a shock of white hair and a thick silver mustache sitting at the head of his dining room table; a game of solitaire laid out before him. He was wearing a dark blue wool cardigan sweater that had grown old with him and perfectly draped the contour of his arms and shoulders. As my eyes grew accustomed to the natural light level in the room, neither dark nor bright, but with a glow that seemed to defy electricity to make the room any more cozy than the old man, and his small cup of steaming Greek coffee, and his dining room table and cards had already made it.

As my eyes grew accustomed to the light, I saw that the man was not alone. Without moving his lips he was engaged in a conversation with two others. They were chatting away about something I couldn't understand. Again Pineal came to my rescue.

He whispered, "The man on his right is St. John Chrysostom come to visit on his holy feast day. The one on his left is St. Gregory Palamas, who is celebrated the following day. They had both been Archbishops and suffered harsh criticisms and though a millennium apart, had become close friends in heaven."

"What are they saying?" I asked with great interest. Pineal tapped my head to upload the Greek translator.

"Manolis, let me try to explain this to you again!" I overheard Palamas say, exasperated but determined. "The grace of God, His tolerance and forgiveness, His blessings when we least deserve them are not created like you and I with all our emotions and opinions are created. Before Creation there was God with all of His essence and all of His energies, and angels and life, such as we cannot imagine, and shouldn't try."

With that Pineal and I looked at each other, grinning and nodding like two bobble head dolls.

"As Spirit, Holy Spirit, God is energy. When He made humankind in His image and likeness, He poured into us this uncreated primal energy.

And then I saw John Chrysostom nod and interject, "Think of it this way Manolis, His grace, this undeserving, unmerited favor which He bestows on one person at a time is His way of continuing to pour forth throughout Creation His energy. This is God's continual interaction with mankind. He gives of Himself, as He expects His children to do. It is the difference between giving a dollar and giving succor."

Then Palamas took over by adding, "Don't you see, that if grace was created, like matter or like that anonymous dollar, we couldn't have genuine communion with the uncreated God. The uncreated grace of God brings us into himself. Matter, no matter how valuable never could do that. Grace reaches into pre-creation and extends out to the depths of human existence where we need it most to relate to us."

Manolis was quiet and pensive. His visitors obviously felt no need to keep hammering the point. Instead they waited patiently looking around his room at the old photographs of his children when they were children and his wife when she was young, and from time to time, they bowed their heads in meditative silence.

Manolis broke the silence. With his eyes he reached over to grab Chrsysostom's attention, received it and asked, "was it God's grace that carried you through those years of suffering in exile, and the damning treatment you received from so many whom you loved?"

John Chrysostom replied, "my brother, it is a dangerous world you live in. If one doesn't struggle in his ...or even attempt to become like God, to experience Theosis," and with that he looked over at Palamas and smiled, "then one must wonder if he or she is on the path to the narrow gate. And yet!" He exclaimed raising his forefinger high, "as I have always said, and these words my brother, live by, 'Christ left us on earth that we should become like beacons of light and teachers unto others; that we might act like leaven, move among men like angels, be like men unto children, and like spiritual men unto animal men in order to win them over, and that we may be like seed and bear abundant fruit. There would be no need for words if you bear witness with your deeds. Manolis, there would be no pagans, if you and those who want to be, were true Christians."

Manolis' eyes puffed-up and he shivered ever so slightly. Then he looked down at his cards, flipped three and came up with the ace of hearts. He smiled ever so slightly but with great satisfaction.

Gregory was the first to stand. "We must be going now, And you my brother should begin to prepare for the Advent fast that begins on Friday. Take yourself out of this house and go; buy your beans and tomatoes. Live from the earth and take nothing from an animal." With that Gregory smiled, knowing that this gentle man had always regarded the labor of the cow with great respect, and for that reason never ate of its meat."

"Ah, yes." Manolis responded pensively. "The birth of our Savior. The great condescension of God almighty and the greatest give of Himself. I must prepare body and soul." And this man, whose wife birthed for him ten children, four of which had died in youth, began to set in motion his journey to the birth of his Savior.

"Pineal?" I asked. "Can we follow Saint John and Saint Gregory to see where they go?"

15. November 21. Presentation of Mary at the Temple

As Pineal and I were leaving Manolis' house a strong sensation of falling hit me. I lost control of my ability to fly and could not see where I was going. There was nothing to do but to fight fear, try to relax, and let it happen.

When the sensation stopped I found myself in a hot and dusty world surrounded by a flurry of angels and people in ornate gowns rushing to and fro. This journey reminded me of when I first left heaven to fly to the planet earth. But then I knew where I was going.

"Not really'." said Fabian, a very tall and distinguished looking angel who had come close enough to read my mind. "When you came to the Bride's mystical year, you could have first landed here instead of the 21st century Washington, DC. Remember, the Bride's year is a compilation of time and place. You are wrong when you say it is timeless for it contains a finite series of events that occur within one year. If one were fixed to the spiral, which the Bride is NOT, it would appear that it is not the same year, but for the Bride of Christ, the events are synchronic, meaningful and purposeful, all for the glory of God."

"Where am I and why?"

Fabian replied, "You are still in the Bride's mystical flat year. The reason for falling the way you did was not to leave time, because you are still in the present, but to leave place. You see the deception is that you must leave time and place together. What so many people fail to understand is that for God, every action, like every word has meaning and therefore power. As the Author and Finisher of life God concerns Himself with themes and plots and foreshadowing.

Come and see what I am talking about. Look over there."

Before us were two couples, and two small children, a girl and a boy. The two families were talking and laughing. The young children, no more than 3 years old, were running around playing tag in the sunshine.

"Are these people of any consequence?" I asked.

"See those children? That little girl will become the most important woman to have every lived. And the little boy is not far behind her."

"Tag! You're it!" the little boy cried laughing and easily outrunning the girl.

Fabian smiled and continued, "Although they lived centuries apart Samuel, the prophet, and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ have much in common. Study the thread that binds them to be amazed at God's authorship."

Just then little Mary ran behind Fabian, and said, "hide me!" Fabian turned to her and replied, "Sweet heart, how can I hide you when most people don't even see me?"

"Oh but Samuel can see you! And that's what counts! Now don't say anything!"

Fabian gave her little shoulders a squeeze and went on.

"Like many others, both Samuel and Mary were conceived in faith. But unlike them, their two mothers Hannah and Anna were willing to turn their most precious and beloved children, their gifts, back to The Lord by having them raised in the Temple by priests and nuns."

I remarked, "How difficult it must have been!" I said, thinking of how much I miss and grieve over the days before Creation. But I had no choice, to voluntarily separate from a precious love, especially a child who could not understand the meaning of the separation, and who loves his or her mother with all their hearts; this I could not fathom."

Fabian responded, "These children from this tender young age were enveloped in the love and worship of the one true God. Their mothers and fathers could come to visit from time to time, but you are correct to say that giving them up was difficult. For I was the angel sent to convince Hannah, and then Anna to let their children go."

"Yikes, thank God I didn't have an assignment like that!"

"It was hard, but I had to keep my eye focused on the big picture and show that to them. God needed a pure vessel to pour into with His Spirit, such as Samuel who annointed Saul and David the first kings of Israel, and of course Mary, to become the pure holy vessel for His incarnation.

"Come children, it is time to go!" shouted Elkanah, Samuel's father. "Come Samuel, we must go with Mary to her new home. Come on Mary, I see you hiding behind that angel, now let's go!"

Joachim and Anna approached Elkanah, and then Joachim said, "I can't thank you enough for coming and bringing young Samuel today. You all have made this day so much more bearable than we anticipated it to be."

Hannah gave Anna a hug and said, "Anna, we know how difficult it was to part. But we also know that the service our child gave to God was worth one hundred times the pain of separation.

Besides, added Elkanah, it is our honor to serve the Mother of God in any way we can.

Hannah added, "she is such a beautiful little girl, so full of grace!"

16. Thanksgiving

Eventually, little Mary had to hug her parents goodbye. The large wooden doors of the temple shut with the resounding sound of cannon fire behind Joachim and Anna, closing Mary off from her mommy's hugs and from her playmates. I didn't see if she cried because I too was outside.

"I have a treat for you!" said Fabian to distract me from my compassionate but useless thoughts. Before I could reply, I noticed a stranger behind him peering at me.

Phineas moved in front of Fabian to greet me with his warm contented face that drew me into him. Phineas made himself with long white sideburns that framed a square jaw and ruddy red cheeks. His face was accented by glistening cerulean blue eyes fringed with wispy crows feet. His form was compact and muscular. He looked like an American pilgrim, like the ones I had seen in paintings. The way angels sculpt themselves to blend with the environments they are sent to has always seemed to me to be one of the more fascinating parts of being assigned to earth. I still don't know how to do that.

"I want to introduce you to Phineas" said Fabian. He has come to escort you to Massachusetts 1620 years after Christ was born. The Bride is particularly strong and well there; you should see and experience how Her faith in Christ, her Beloved, and Our Father carries Her through extremely severe conditions.

Slightly confused I asked, "Will I still be on the flat circle of NOW time, or will we be ascending the spiral of time since, by 1620 Christ will have been long gone from this time-cursed planet?"

Phineas replied, "Like the events of Christ's life, Thanksgiving days, even more than most of the Bride's feast days show the little gods how a feast day is actually happening, not being remembered. It seems to be that it is because many of the same elements are part of each of millions of Thanksgiving gatherings. We must be going now. Do you have a heavy winter coat?"

Weather. It had never occurred to me before Phineas suggested it, that I needed to protect myself from weather. Doesn't Phineas remember his life before creation and how cold it was before the sun was made; has he been here too long?

"Uh, oh forgive me; perhaps you are right; I have adapted to this world quite a bit. But in this case unless you can feel the bitter cold, you won't understand the suffering of the pilgrims. If you can't feel their suffering, then you can't understand how their love for our God pulled them through the vice.

Phineas planted in my mind a thought that I had to hold onto tightly while Fabian was bear-hugging me good-bye.

"Good-bye Fabian. I will never forget this day, thank you; I hope we will meet again soon." With that, I turned to Phineas to indicate that I was ready for take-off.

While we were flying through the night over ocean and land and up the spiral of time I thought about how God used suffering as a tool to teach and mould His children so they could mature into His Bride. It occurred to me how the saints I had met in heaven had all suffered great calamities in their lives. Suffering gave them opportunities to practice and demonstrate their faith in the invisible Father. For the wisest, it helped them to see the ways in which they had failed to obey Christ's commands, and thus failed to reflect God's image and likeness. Such awareness is the first step to repentance and reform.

But for some, the pain of suffering makes them mean, like a scream for relief. God forgives the repentant and never ceases to teach the teachable.

Phineas and I landed in a village called Plymouth into a very real and current scene. Men and boys were sawing trees for firewood and shelter. Some women were cooking and others were sewing inside the large common house. Everyone had bundled up to stay warm. The blacksmith's fire was a popular gathering place.

Phineas said, "See these people. The more adversity that is mounted against them, the harder they pray. They never seem to give in to despair, to petty jealousies, or anything that would divide them from each other. They are lead by their common purpose to build a home for themselves in this empty land where they can worship God as His Holy Spirit.

Look, the entire village of Plymouth is preparing for a feast day of Thanksgiving that Governor William Bradford declared a week ago, to thank God for rewarding their hard work with success and for sending the Indians, Samoset and Squanto who taught them how to live well in the wilderness."

Phineas and I watched quietly while Massasoit Indians arrived with five dressed deer, and more than a dozen turkeys. Two Indians were teaching a small group of women how to make hoecakes and pudding out of cornmeal and syrup. Another Indian was surrounded by a group of children while he demonstrated roasting kernels of corn in an earthen pot. Out came fluffy white popcorn! They laughed and laughed with glee!

We saw ladies cooking big pots of carrots and onions, turnips, and parsnips and others using some of their precious flour and their dried summer fruit to make blueberry, apple and cherry pies. The scene reminded me of Poppy who wished she could eat.

Finally they were all ready to dine. William Brewster lead the prayers by thanking God for satisfying all their needs, even when their faith weakened. He thanked God too for the lives of the many friends and family who had succumbed to death and for the friendship of the Indians.

Every head was bowed so that Phineas and I could not see even one face. When the prayer was over most of the rising cheeks had lines of tears running down them.

After supper, there were archery contests, foot races, and wrestling.so much commotion, so much gaiety was had by all.

"Do you see that thankfulness unites the giver and the receiver?" whispered Phineas. "They become one in much the same way that little gods are one with the one true God."

Catching on, I added, "...and similar to how the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are essentially one. It seems to me that thankfulness even unites them with each other."

Phineas looked at me grinning from ear to ear. He was remembering when I tried to find the Bride in a restaurant. He laughed because I had only been about 400 years too late.

17. December 6th- The Feast-day of Santa Claus

 I quietly slipped away from Plymouth and Phineas leaving the Pilgrims to their strenuous but faithful lives. There were many more angels helping them there than I had seen anywhere else, even in heaven, so I knew I was leaving them in good hands to build new lives for themselves and a brand new country.

I knew exactly where to go next in the Bride's year and I could not wait another minute to get started. Alone and unafraid I headed up to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus whose feast day is on December 6th. I had so many questions to ask him. I wondered how this one saint among the thousands of disciples of Jesus could have gained such fame, even among the heathen. I wanted to know why he was associated so closely with the incarnation, and if he received half as many thank you notes as he did letters of request.

So off I went north past Maine, through Canada and westward to North Pole, Alaska. When I landed I went right into a church looking for angels who might know where to find Saint Nick. The church was empty so I went back out into the streets. People were few and far between in North Pole.

Suddenly, a tall frozen angel scared me when he shouted, "Can I help you?"

"Oh! I replied, I thought you were a statue! You frightened me!"

"What are you doing here?"

"I'm looking for Santa Claus."

He replied, "Santa Claus lives in the real North Pole; this is Alaska. Go north 30 degrees and west 20 degrees. Look for the red building; you can't miss it. Farewell!"

"Thank you!" and off I went over white mountains and across glaciers.

It was easy to spot the bright red building nestled in a valley of freshly fallen snow. There appeared to be two chimneys jutting out of the red metal roof, one with a steady stream of smoke and the other with a spotlight beaming out from it, as if Santa lived in a lighthouse.

I entered to find a red cheeked old man with long white whiskers and white hair wearing a fleecy red gown trimmed in white fur sitting by a fire. His eyes were closed. He appeared to be alternating between praying and listening. After a few minutes, he sensed my presence and opened his eyes.

"May I help you? he asked.

"Santa, " I replied cautiously for fear of interrupting him, "I am traveling on the flat circle of The Church year to learn how time and matter can be holy. May I talk with you on this, your feast day? I know how busy you are, so I promise to keep it brief."

Santa's face lit up. As a man who lives to be of service to others, he relished the opportunity to help me. Old Saint Nick immediately stood up, fetched a nearby rocker and carefully placed it beside his near the blazing hearth. Then he sat himself down, and with bright cheerful green eyes said, "Let's talk."

Jumping right in with my questions, I asked, "Santa, why do you live in this frozen barren place instead of in heaven where most of the other saints go to live?"

"The people have put me in the North Pole, so this is where I stay. I have grown to like it here very much, it is like being in the desert. Actually the desert fathers come to visit me from time to time. Anthony was here just last week. It reminds them of the olden days. By living here instead of in heaven, I have the best of both worlds. I am near the people I want to bless, but still I am invisible since no one comes here. Perhaps our Lord told the people to assign me to the North Pole." With that Santa seemed to drift into a memory which I interrupted by asking,

"Do you make toys?"

"Yes, in a sense I do. I pray child by child that he or she will receive whatever their hearts desire. Often their angels." Santa paused briefly to look at me, wondering why I wasn't guarding anyone, "send me messages of what they want or need, and then I get to work praying that someone, a parent or an uncle will give them whatever it is. You see, for a child to receive the gift of what they want is the first step to showing them that God can answer their prayers."

"Do you have a wife and elves?"

"The Lord has sent me many many helpers to bring me children's wishes and to send my prayers to those who can fulfill them. A tremendous amount of research goes into my job. My wife manages the elves and they all live in the building down the way. They know I must be alone to do my job properly, and they must live in community to do theirs. We worship together twice a day."

"Can you tell me why, of all the saints who ever lived, why you are the most famous, and why you are tied to Christmastime?"

With this question Santa seemed to drift farther into a very distant memory. He was quiet for some time, forcing me to practice patience. Finally he said, "When I lived among the people I was a most fervent defender of the faith. You see, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, appeared to me at a young age. He became my best friend. Even as I grew into an old man with much responsibility, I never lost the Friend of my youth. It never mattered to me that Christ was invisible because He revealed himself to me in many very real ways: guidance and healing and by answering my prayers.

During my days as archbishop of Myra, I was asked to attend a council because there had been many far flung opinions about who Jesus Christ was. Some said that He was more human than divine, and others said He was more divine than human. Obviously, those people didn't know Him as I did. He once told me that because He is Perfectly human, He is divine. He said that mankind lost its divinity, its image of God, when Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He said that He wanted to help us become fully human, so we too could be fully divine again.

There was one man, a fellow named Arias who irritated me to no end. He was so cocky and so wrong. It was as if he thought he could make Jesus into whoever he wanted him to be without any regard for the truth. I despised him for spreading lies about my best Friend, and gathering a clan of fellow misbelievers with him.

He tried to validate his opinion with votes as if the truth was powerless against majority rule!"

I could see Santa's face getting redder and redder. "These people didn't know Christ, my Lord!" ! I became so angry with his lame arguments that I punched Arias in the face right then and there, on the floor of the council! He fell of course which quieted him down, and I walked away to brood and let the others revive him.

Jesus Christ as His Holy Spirit, and my Best Friend, came to help me. I was surprised that He was so pleased with me. Jesus knew then and there how much I loved Him and that He could trust me to be His friend forever. To console me, He promised to find a way to thank me for defending Him.

I went about my business without a second thought about that incident, doing what I loved to do the most, which was to give gifts to young and old, when it occurred to me that I could never give a better gift than God did when He sent us His only begotten Son to earth to restore the relationship of humankind to our Creator and Father, and to make us divine too. Since that day, I have tried to be like my Best Friend by giving of myself, and giving everything I can.

The season of giving naturally linked me to the true gift giver, our Father. I have wondered if my fame is His reward for defending Him against Arias. The reward is the opportunity to bring joy to children as a little step toward their personal revelation of the gift of Christ."

"You really are such a jolly old chap. Don't you ever get sad?" I asked.

"Yes, my angelic friend, I do." he replied, "The saddest thing for me is that unbelievers tell the children I am not real. How can they say that? Surely only the most blind and dumb could think that I am not as alive and real as anyone they can touch!"

I thought Saint Nicholas had a very good point. He certainly looked alive to me. I was sorry for reminding him of his pain, so I added, "Santa Claus?"

"Yes, my friend." He said.

"I can help you transport your prayers for the children's gifts this Christmas. There must be quite a lot to do. Where do I begin?"

Santa smiled warmly and with his sparkling eyes full of love and grace responded, "Oh my dear friend, you have a mission of your own. Continue on your journey to the manger. My elves will help me. Thank you for stopping by. Peace be with you, now be off, I must get back to my work, only 19 more days to go. Shoo!"

18. Flying to Christmas

I must admit that I wasn't very disappointed that Santa Claus rejected my offer to help him, nor was I sorry to leave the North Pole. Of the many kinds of matter that I have been exposed to on this planet, snow is my least favorite. It confuses me the way it can change shape and melts. It comes and goes, and when it falls from the sky, I can hardly fly. Of all the things I have come to accept about matter, I like its stability best; then there is snow to confound that!

Flying south through a snowstorm, I headed to Bethlehem for the birth day of God as human. Before I met Jesus I thought God's incarnation-project was thoroughly ludicrous. Yet, Jesus makes God appear more friendly and personal, which was shocking at first, but I am getting use to it. Actually, Jesus has also helped me to accept the concept of humanity. These strange beings are shaped like creatures but have the hearts and minds of God. Only God could come up with something as clever and amazing as combining Himself with the characteristics of an animal.

That concept, when He made Adam and Eve in His image and likeness was fantastic enough, but to place His very own genes in a human woman, for God to become born of humankind, is light-years beyond amazing. No words can describe such condescension. Could the sun be concentrated into a pinhead? Could Empress Catherine scrub bathrooms? It is no wonder at all that the Jews have thought Jesus was a blasphemy. I would agree with them if I hadn't known God to be just this creative.

I'll wager that being at the scene of Christ's birth will be as thrilling as sitting on a shooting star. I must make sure that I arrive on time.

Traveling down the spiral of time and around the planet simultaneously takes skill that I still haven't mastered. In fact, these currents are a little too choppy for me, whoa! Look! there is a flock of angels.

"Who are you? And where are you going?" I sent telepathically as they came in range.

The lead angel said, "We are going to attend the conception of the Virgin Mary, wanna join us?"

I replied, "Frankly that sounds a little awkward. Don't you think Joachim and Anna want some privacy? I am not going, but thanks for asking; bye!"

After the angels zipped past me, I managed to hop on a current of air and surfed it across half the Atlantic Ocean, and from 2013 AD Nova Scotia to Gaul in 110 AD. I was having so much fun that I nearly forgot about my mission and my deadlines and flew in circles and then through my circles until the sky became very dark and ominous.

You already know how much I love the darkness. This particular night was pitch black. I settled down to get back on track and adjusted my sonar to locate the manger in Bethlehem 0 AD. I was actually having a little trouble, wondering how I would find the right barn when I looked up to notice an extraordinarily bright, but lonely star. As I was gazing on its brightness I noticed that the star was careening straight towards me!

Angels don't get scared. We have nothing to be afraid of; we aren't afraid of poverty or accidents, we can't get sick or be killed. Life is pretty safe for us. The only thing that matters for us is whether we are angels of God, or those fallen demon angels that are always making trouble.

As I said, angels don't get scared, so as that star came closer, my feelings startled me even more than the ball itself. I couldn't tell if it was going to enter into me or just point the way to Bethlehem. As I look back, I suppose confusion was the source of my fear. This startling situation reawakened me to my mission. I realized that my fun flying had been something of a respite, but also a distraction. I tried to calm down by flying slower, hoping that perhaps my imaginings were in vain and that the star would pass me.

Just as I was preparing myself to succumb to destruction by starlight, suddenly, behind the star there appeared my old friend Gabriel.

"Gabriel, what are you doing! You nearly frightened my wings off!" I exclaimed. "What are you doing with that star?"

"This is not a star, it is more than that. Come with me, I will take you to Bethlehem and show you what this light can do. Besides, I need your help."

With that Gabriel careened ahead of me, and I took off to keep up with him and his super-light.

Our flight was just long enough to give me time to recover from fear. It was a bonus to not have to navigate.

"Look," said Gabriel, "See those men over there," pointing to four very well dressed distinguished looking bearded men deeply immersed in conversation. "Join them and get them to follow this light. Tell them that a great king of the Jews will be born; tell them that you saw his star in the sky."

Being relatively new to earth and humans, I hadn't yet learned how to work with them. As you know I am no guardian angel. Being thrust into this moment was both an honor and a threat. I was accustomed to communicating telepathically with other angels, but angels are receptive, humans seems so oblivious.

I wafted myself near the group of men and looked up at Gabriel for approval and directions.

"Good, now simply say what you want them to think. They will pick it up telepathically. Watch this:"

"Look at that star Balthazar! I have never seen a star so low and so bright, what could it mean?"

Balthazar, a learned astrologer, well trained and experienced was perplexed.

Melchior the elder, a theologian and philosopher said, "What an amazing coincidence. At the last quarter moon I found myself in the presence of the Hebrew scripture. It appears from my reading that a king of the Jews will be born; let us go to Jerusalem to find Him and pay homage to him."

"Let's take him gifts." chimed in Gaspar.

"What should we give to this Jewish king?" added Faisal.

"I have some gold!" Gaspar offered.

"Perfect. What else? Melchior," Balthazar added, "what can you bring?"

"I have a small jar of myrrh. It is very precious, made by my grandfather. I will bring that to the king." Melchior felt proud that he had something of great value to offer.

"Yes, the oil of anointing. Good, bring it."

"Now for me, what can I bring? I know! Frankincense! Gold, frankincense and myrrh, it has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"

"And you Faisal, what will you offer?"

Faisal looked sullen. "I can't go, my wives would have fits, and there are the twenty children to discipline. You go on without me. I will pray for your safe journey."

Enthused by the thought of a long journey to meet a newborn king, Balthazar was anxious to get started. "Okay, let's get ready. There is no time to waste, we don't know how long the star will wait for us. Faisal, you can be of great help. Here is a bell, if the star moves, follow it. We will go to say good bye to our families and pack for the journey. Keep ringing the bell as loud as you can. When we return, we will find you. Then you may go home to your wives and small army."

As the wise men were dispersing, I looked up at Gabriel and smiled. "That was very impressive Gabe, now what exactly did you need me to do?"

19. Three Wise Fools and Me

Gabriel confessed. "I'm sorry, I got carried away. I do have a job for you, a very important one. I need you to take this star to the manger for me. You will lead the magi while I go on ahead. Don't go too fast, especially while Faisal is following you and the men are packing."

"Gabriel, uh...where is this manger?" I replied.

"Go to 31.704274° N, and 35.207330° E , you can't miss it." With that Gabriel tossed me the star-like object and flew off as if leaving me with the children. I didn't even have a chance to say good bye or to complain.

I hovered there awkwardly holding the star and scouring the horizon in vain for Gabriel. Then I looked down at Faisal staring up at my star. Of all the craziness I have experienced on this planet, this moment could win the award for the most absurd.

I wondered how Gabriel found these Persians and managed to convince them to go on such a long and dangerous journey, and why?

Why would they want to pay homage to an infant so far away? What good could a baby do for them? He isn't ever going to reign over them. These Persians are barbarians who have nothing in common with Jews. How in the world did Gabriel convince them to leave home and family and friends to subject themselves to another kingdom?

I wondered what they will think when they find out that I am taking them to a barn. I wonder if they will still turn over their gifts. Then it occurred to me that possibly these men make a habit of going around the world worshipping every poor sop they think will be a king some day. How could anyone call these Wise Men? They are more like fools. Then I came to my senses.

Perhaps I was the fool. Haven't I learned by now to let God do whatever deranged thing He wants to do, and wait to watch it become absolutely brilliant.

I woke up from my daydream to look down and see Faisal still staring up at my star with his mouth wide open. I thought I should try to get him out of his trance so I moved ever so slowly southwest. Sure enough, he moved with me! Then I decided to have a little fun and went east for a mile and then west, then back toward where we began. hahaha. This could be entertaining, except that listening to his loud bell ringing began to grate on me. So I stopped teasing him.

Finally Balthazar showed up. Faisal quickly handed over the bell, and bid him fare well explaining that the wives would worry about him being gone so long.

Soon after, Gaspar, then Melchior found Balthazar ringing the bell. Typically, on long journeys such as this one, I had seen servants form a traveling entourage, but with not this group. These three men were on their own, bringing nothing but their camels and a few satchels.

Being as anxious to arrive as they were, I calculated the shortest route and headed straight there. Having to go so slow was maddening. But it explained why The Lord allowed me to have my fling the other day. This slow and steady march to Bethlehem was unusually quiet. Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior, simply headed wherever the star and I lead them.

Remembering that humans must eat and sleep, they stopped from time to time and I stopped too. For the first few days, they took turns sleeping while their camels walked and another held the lead. I taught them that I would stop for 6 hours every night. That was maddening too. How I wanted to take a break as well and fly my somersaults, but I didn't know where to put my star, and didn't want to create a frightening light show. Soon, the three kings learned that the star would let them sleep. How I wish I could have swooped them up and flown them to Bethlehem.

One day I overheard them talking, "Balthazar," said Melchior "how does your astrology tell you that the star is taking us to an infant king?"

"It doesn't!" replied Balthazar indignantly. "Stars don't tell you who is born, but from the hour when man is born what will befall him."

"I thought this was your idea. How did we come to this?"

Gaspar chimed in. "Be still, my friends. Haven't you noticed, that this is not a star anyway? Stars don't shine during the day, and we can see it clearly, day and night. When we move, it moves and when we stop, it stops. My friends, Ahura Masda, our god of truth and light spoke to me in a dream; he is guiding us and we will soon see our reward."

Silence followed for quite some time as the men walked and rode their camels and as I, carrying the star, moved ever so slowly across plains and over the mountains. I felt so sorry for the men and animals. It was such a difficult journey and their food was sparse. I wondered what kind of determination would drive these men to continue their struggle. Then I looked at my star. It glowed even brighter in the daylight than in the night, with such a warm and alluring light, that I imagined it calling them to follow and to endure.

After what seemed to me to be centuries later, we arrived in Jerusalem where I spotted Gabriel.

He saw us and with great cheer in his voice said, "Welcome! You made it! Congratulations, I wasn't sure you would. How was the journey?"

It really is too bad that one can't slug an angel. Well, you can try but it won't do any good. It would go right through him. The first thing I did though was to toss the star to him.

He caught it easily and said, "Let's go, I have a reward for you!"

"What!!!" I replied. "We aren't even in Bethlehem yet! This is Jerusalem."

"Yes, yes I know that." answered Gabriel who blew on the star and extinguished it! "Let's leave these men for a while. I have assigned another angel to take them to King Herod, to rouse him up against the infant Jesus. Don't worry, it's all part of the plan."

Angels don't cry either. But I never wanted more to be able to do so. After that long, grueling and dusty journey, to suddenly be called away....in order to jeopardize the life of my soon to be born Lord-God was the most flabbergasting thing I could imagine.

Angels know this. Hierarchy establishes order, and obedience is the first rule of hierarchy. I know that. I also know that if I am patient and trust God, every confusing thing will become clear. So with all my emotional strength I took a few flying flings through the air and returned to Gabriel who waited for me. Before leaving, I looked down at my men fondly. This was the first time I had ever come close to being a guardian angel. I would miss them.

"Stop fretting, you'll be back. Come on, let's go. There's no time to waste! Christ is about to be born and I have one more assignment for you! In a brief moment of disobedience, I returned to my men and wafted my way through them, hoping to bless them with the wisdom they would surely need when they meet Herod.

"Gabriel, please tell me why I had to bring these men all the way from Persia to Jerusalem. It was such a grueling journey for all of us. I think I deserve to know."

Gabriel responded compassionately, "You are right, I will tell you. The Jews, are a bull headed rebellious people who rarely believe their own prophets. Why God cherishes them so I will never understand, but He clearly does. For the same reason that they killed their prophets and from time to time went off worshipping idols, God knows they would never believe the Christ Child, their Messiah, is born in a manger.

For this momentous occasion God is bringing people from outside of the tribes of His beloved Israel to testify to the birth of the Messiah. From His very birth Christ is calling Gentiles to worship the one true God.This is the reason my angelic friend. Now that doesn't seem so foolish does it? God made His point clear and universal by bringing in the unfamiliar, ignorant barbarians to be wiser than His own chosen people. He will always confound the wise, because He is infinitely smarter than they. Just as the sun comes from the east to illuminate the world, so God brought the wise men from the east to bring Holy Wisdom to His people, Israel. Those who have ears will hear, and those who have eyes will see."

See! God did it again!!!!! He made me, the most cynical angel this side of the great divide, feel foolish. I wonder what the reward is that Gabriel said he has for me.

Taken from Homilies on Matthew, by Saint John Chrysostom. Erdemens Press.

20. December 25th - Christmas Day

The night sky was clear and chock full of stars, way up high and far away where they belong. Gabriel slowed down to a hover and turned to wait for me to catch up.

"Now what?" I said, still perturbed that I had to abandon my three wise men to follow Gabriel to Bethlehem.

"Do you see those shepherds down there tending their flock of sheep?" Gabriel asked.

"Yes." I replied feeling a slight kinship with those night workers.

"Your reward for making that painfully slow journey from Persia to Palestine will be to assist me in announcing to them the birth of the Christ that is occurring at this very moment."

"Are you telling me that these smelly uncouth sheep herders, and not my three kings of orient who have climbed mountains and crossed deserts to come here, will be the first to see the newborn babe? After all we went through!"

"Peace brother," replied Gabriel trying to calm me down. "This is the way The Lord wants it. We just take orders. Remember, the royal great-grandfather, King David, was a 'sheep-herder'. It is fitting that a Jew, a son of David, be the first to greet God as man." (Gabriel had a way about him that both reduced me to spittle and elevated me to the highest heavens.)

"Besides," he added, "Jesus is coming to shepherd the sons of Israel. It is important for our Lord, that the Jews come first, and then the Gentiles may follow with their faith and gifts. When will you learn, my angelic friend, to trust God and stop whining?"

With that Gabriel turned to fly down to the shepherds and of course I meekly followed. When we got closer I saw hundreds of still and prayerful angels quietly hovering around the oblivious shepherds.

Suddenly, in a blink of an eye, and without warning, Gabriel turned a dazzling spotlight on me! I looked at the shepherds who were as shocked and amazed as was I because I noticed that they could see me! What a thrill. This had never happened to me before.

It was as if God let me feel the joy that He was about to experience by walking among men with a human form.

After a few moments, while I gave the shepherds, and myself, time to recover from the shock, and with all the sound of authority I could muster I voiced the words that Gabriel was sending me telepathically.

We said, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."

To make my announcement all the more phenomenal the hundreds of angels surrounding them also became visible like me. Gabriel, invisible, conducted them in the chant, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to His people on earth.’

After the big display, one by one the angels flew back up to heaven to await further instructions.

I could feel myself disappearing again, and I was sorry to see me go. But I could tell that our mission had been accomplished when I heard the shepherds say to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."

Gabriel and I went with them across several fields (with the sheep) until we finally reached Bethlehem. Gabriel knew exactly where to go and seemed to be guiding the shepherds telepathically.

When we arrived at the manger, a sensation of elation gripped me. Could this be the moment I had worked for all these weeks? I felt sorry that my magi weren't present for this glorious moment, and wondered how they were getting along without me and the star.

The shepherds who were emboldened by my appearance and message seemed to know exactly where to go. When they arrived at the manger, because it had no door, they immediately saw the Infant lying there in swaddling clothes. They straightaway approached Joseph and introduced themselves. Joseph greeted the men warmly with tear stained eyes and a sweaty brow.

One of the shepherds said, "I am sorry for disturbing you, but we were in the field tending our flock when a massive light appeared from the east and before us stood an angel who announced the birth of the Messiah! Then suddenly hundreds of angels chanted Glory to the Most high God, and peace to His people on earth. Is this infant, your son who is lying there, the Messiah come to save God's people and restore eternal life?"

Joseph ushered them over to see the newborn babe wrapped in swaddling cloths laying on a bed of straw, sleeping soundly.

The newborn babe's mother, Mary looked up curiously. She was radiant, having just given birth. Joseph said, "Mary, these men have come from the fields where angels told them of the birth of your Son, and called Him the Messiah! Did you hear what they said? I am amazed!"

Mary shot a Mona Lisa smile at the shepherds, slightly perplexed by what had occurred. She wasn't at all sure of how much people should know about her Son, and when they should know it, and how she should respond. She had no idea of what to expect.

Before the shepherds left, Gabriel called to me and said, "Come, we have to get back to your magi, let's go."

I had almost forgotten about them. Gabriel and I took off back to Jerusalem. When we found them, they had just left King Herod.

"Balthazar, how stupid could you be to ask this king where the infant king of the Jews was born. Couldn't you tell how upset he became?" said Melchior.

"I have to agree." added Gaspar. "We just left one very angry Jew; he acted as if the infant would usurp his throne tomorrow. What should we do now? Where is that star?!"

Gaspar said, "Are we really going back to tell him where we found the king like he told us to?"

Melchior replied, "Let's sleep on it."

"Herod doesn't frighten me." responded Balthazar. We have not come this far to be bullied by that man. Look! There it is, our star! It has reappeared! Wonderful! "

The star reappeared because Gabriel recreated it, and then he tossed it back into my hands. I was so happy to have it back. It was warm and bright. I think the star was happy to be back in my arms. I knew just what to do. I carried it over to the three men who were running to me, to show the magi that the star recognized them too.

Soon, we were back on the road, slowly leading my three wise men to the manger.

When we arrived the shepherds had left. I entered the manger and stood at the head of the sleeping newborn king. Balthazar, Melchior, and Gaspar looked at each other in near disbelief.

"Could this be possible? Look at this poor manger; where is everyone?" exclaimed Melchior.

"This must be the right place," replied Balthazar, "The star went right in! Come, let us follow it to the infant King of the Jews."

The three magi entered respectfully and as the shepherds did, approached Joseph immediately.

They could not communicate with words because they didn't speak Aramaic, but they didn't have to. They were obviously foreigners. They spoke with their bodies. First Balthazar, followed by Melchior and then Gaspar bowed their heads, and knelt by the infant. When they stood up, one by one they handed their gifts to the Mother.

Mary gently received the Frankincense, then the gold, and myrrh. With each gift, she smiled warmly, and shyly bowed her head with half closed eyes.

After they handed over their gifts, the wise men bowed again and bid good bye, walking backwards so that their backs would never be seen by the infant, or His Mother or Joseph.

When they left I wanted to follow them to make sure they departed Palestine safely, but I couldn't separate myself from the babe and the star which I continued to hold for a very long time over His little head while gazing down at the beauty of Emmanuel, God with man. I recognized my God in Him, and yet He was so small and so powerless.