He sat under the tree, the pages of scripture resting in his hands. His eyes, however, were gazing upward, and traveling from the branches, ripe with figs, to the open sky. Wisps of white floated above him, playing with the sunlight as they passed.
A small bird called out as it lit upon a branch nearby in a flutter of tiny wings. She rested there a moment, long enough to cock a studious glance at the bearded young man. His eyes met hers, and she called out a verse. She paused, and in another flutter she rose again. He watched her swoop and rise and disappear behind the building beyond the small, green field his fig tree called home.
His eyes came to rest once again at the open page before him.
The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre...
Abraham. Our father. The one who left his country, his family, his home to venture out into the great unknown.
He thought of his own town. The dirty, nothing, little city he called home. He could count the number of streets on two hands, but somehow, he felt lost there. Life beyond its walls did not seem impossible, but close enough to impossible to seem unreachable. To where could he fly if he did leave? The dirty, nothing little town next door?
His heart felt anchored, chained, to everything familiar. Family, expectations, and the weight of a life without vision. To leave it all would require a call as deep and dramatic as that of Father Abraham. But God was not appearing in the great trees of Cana, with angels making impractical announcements that made a person laugh with hope and disbelief.
He thought of Abraham, of flight and of freedom and of angels, and a stab of jealousy for the ancient father ran through him. His hand was wiping away the water at the corners of his eyes when his heart leaped into his throat. A great flurry of feathers landed above his head.
“God! You scared me to death!” he said.
The culprit, a haggard, grey pigeon with pink eyes, preened his wings and stared back. He cooed a raspy hello, and in another flurry of whining wings, he was in the air and winging west and south toward Nazareth.
“You’re headed in the wrong direction, my friend,” he muttered.
He sighed, glancing down once again at the page before him, and his eyes came to rest at the words of the angel.
Is anything too hard for the Lord?
“Maybe this is.”
For a moment, all was silence as he stared upon the story on the page. And for a moment, he thought he heard a silent voice somewhere in the stillness.