Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Agostino's Messenger

Agostino plodded through his morning schedule, burdened by worry’s invisible weight. 

When lunch arrived he fled the office to a bench on the edge of a nearby park. The air around him was cold and clear. Agostino ate in brooding silence, angry now that the change in scene had not erased his fears. 

A girl approached along the path that led by his bench, and sat beside him. She looked to be about ten years old.  She was dressed in a pair of fading jeans, with a coat and a knit cap to keep out the autumn chill. 

Agostino regarded her with some impatience, wondering why she had chosen his bench. There were several in sight that were empty.  He silently wished her away from him.

Photo Credit: www.123RF.com
After a little, she produced a bag of breadcrumbs and began to spread them in a wide arc around the bench. Almost magically it seemed, pigeons appeared and busied themselves with the feast.  

"Christ," he thought, "more company."

She looked up and nodded to Agostino as she scattered the bread crumbs.  

When he did not acknowledge her, she said, “It’s my job, you know.”

“Your job?” Agostino asked, a little startled.

“Why yes. I asked God to show me how I could help.  And then in church the pastor read this verse.  ‘Consider the lilies, how they grow: They neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.’ And then there's that part about the birds."

“I know God can do it without me, but I don't think he minds the help."

"So you're helping God out by feeding pigeons . . ." Agostino couldn't keep the sarcasm from his voice.

The girl cocked her head up at him and just smiled. "That's what I thought too.  But you know Jesus said ‘consider,' so I've been considering."

"Then in the next part, Jesus said 'seek,' so I began seeking. And I found it."  

"Salvation through feeding pigeons," Agostino remarked, trying and failing to sound playful, unconcerned.

The girl giggled.  "I never thought of it that way.  I just felt like this was where God wanted me.  And it felt good.  In here." She tapped her chest lightly.

There passed a period of silence as Agostino and his companion regarded the pigeons.

The girl reached over impulsively to tap Agostino’s chest. “Now its your turn to do the same.” 

She bounced up from the bench before Agostino could ask what she meant, then skipped away. A little way down the path a man whom he took to be the girl's father reached out to take her hand.  The girl looked back and she and her father waved at him, then turned to walk down the path.

Agostino watched them for a long time before he became aware of movement. Birds surrounded him, enjoying the meal the girl had spread out for them. The bag of bread crumbs sat on the bench next to him.

Agostino laughed as the worry drained out of him. Sunlight washed cold radiance over winter grasses and sparkled in the eyes of the birds as they cocked their heads to gaze at him. In the center of his chest, where the girl's finger had lightly tapped as if knocking at his heart’s door, he felt the stirrings of a peculiar, half-forgotten memory.

Photo Credit: www.crosscards.com

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