I have a problem with this tale. Angels have no gender tho' they are often portrayed as either beautiful young men or as women. So I refer to this Angel as 'it' to recognise that like a faerie, the Angel can appear as it wishes to appear. For those who believe that Angels are one gender or another, I state this so as not to cause offence. Hopefully, the small fact that I am an atheist won't be held against me!
There was an Angel in the shopping precinct. Mostly people thought the angel was someone in costume promoting one of the shops. Such is our world. No doubt, if the Second Coming occurred, it would be considered a media stunt. I arrived late, after work and saw the Angel almost instantly. I bought a few things and as the security guards began to close the precinct I watched one of them start to walk towards the Angel. Suddenly he seemed to stop and puzzle over something before turning and walking away. I looked at the Angel and even tho' I am an atheist, even I could see in the intense beauty of this being and the deep seriousness of the eyes that this was no person in costume.
I approached the Angel slowly and it turned to gaze at me, it's wings lifting slightly. It had a slight smile on the mouth but those serious eyes seemed to see all the way through me. Into my less than glorious past and my not all that glorious present. I found that I was too amazed to speak suddenly until it lowered it's gaze and said in a voice of infinite musicality,
"Funny that you should notice me, is it not?"
I smiled at that and agreed before asking if it would come home with me. Well, even an atheist ought tobe polite and besides, I was full of questions. As if the Angel knew this it agreed with a smile. We walked home and I noticed that nobody seemed to see the Angel. It was as if I were going home alone and yet I could see the Angel walking beside me. When we arrived home, I asked the Angel to sit in the lounge while I made us both a little supper. The Angel thanked me but it said that it did not require food. For this reason also it would not have coffee.
When I had made a light supper, I sat with the Angel and directly it asked me,
"You are full of questions are you not?"
I said that I was and it smiled leaning forwards until it's smile became fixed and apparently painful. I was about to get up, but it raised its hand and bid me sit again. Leaning back it seemed to take a deep breath as if it had been unable to breathe - even though I knew that Angels do not need to breathe. I believe it was then I became a little suspicious and yet ashamed of my suspicions. It frowned briefly as if a cloud had passed across the sun before sitting up and smiling benignly again.
"Do you have chocolate?" it asked.
I was puzzled but answered that I did. The angel nodded sagely as if I had answered a gravely important question.
"Is there really a God for whom you are a messenger?" I asked openly.
The Angel laughed then - a light, bright laugh like that of a young girl. I was puzzled but the Angel held up its hand to hush me.
"Angel I am, messenger to none," it replied, "I came to you because I was curious as to why you refuse to believe in a God at all."
I gave, as well as I could, my answer. I tried to be clear about my disbelief and the Angel nodded occasionally, fixed upon my answer. When I had finished it asked me,
"Do you wonder then if I am an alien being from another world?"
This with a broad smile. I answered that I could not answer definitively as I had not enough evidence. This pleased the Angel and it sat up again.
"You are wearing iron or steel are you not?" it asked me.
I was taken aback by this question and thought it over when I remembered the small iron impressed cartouche that Maria had given me. A lucky charm she had called it. I did not believe in such things, but I wore it to please her for she was a dear friend. I told the Angel this and it frowned.
"Excuse me while I sit a little further back," it said and I was caught by that sense of uneasiness again.
"If you are not a messenger of God, then does God exist?" I asked.
The Angel tipped its head on one side and considered this.
"If you believe there is a God then He exists. If you do not, then He does not," it said.
I was unimpressed and said so. Surely God must either exist or not, He could not do both. The Angel nodded and said,
"You wish to believe that God does not exist. Therefore for you He does not. A believer on the other hand..."
"Yes, I understand your point, but God might exist whether I believed He did or not. Whether the believer believed or not. That is what I mean. Are you saying that God only exists for those who choose to believe He does and not for those who don't. If so, how can He do both?"
The Angel smiled broadly at that and then laughed lightly.
"The believer's answer would be, because He is God He can do both. Your answer is that of the atheist so you believe He must either do one or the other," it replied.
"You are trying to confuse the issue," I answered crossly.
"As an atheist, does it matter if God exists? You have decided for very good reasons that He does not exist. Is that not enough?" the Angel said softly.
"No," I answered, "It is not enough. If I knew God did exist I would be able to believe. I cannot because I don't know that He does, but I am quite sure he does not. But that is not enough."
The Angel raised its hands and said clearly,
"But it is all in the belief. If you believe then God exists, if not, He does not. It is not a matter of fact, purely of belief."
I finished my supper thinking on this while the Angel told me a far-fetched tale about a man who had three daughters. After my supper I felt sleepy and asked if the Angel would sleep. It said that it did not require sleep either but would watch over me while I slept. I was about to go to bed when I turned to it and asked,
"As an Angel are you not proof that God exists?"
The Angel laughed again, "No, I am only proof that I exist," it said.
I went to sleep and when I awoke the Angel had gone. I am still no wiser as to the existence of a God, but as my own ideas are unassailed I continue to be an atheist. I did find on my kitchen table the following morning, a long fine feather, not quite white but a kind of pale gold. I kept it. I may not believe in God, but I've had an Angel in the house and I won't forget that.