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A hole in the wing (part 2)

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He knew what he wanted and what he had to do, but he still hesitated. He stared at the little King, who seemed to sleep soundly, unaware, despite his haste and bustle. Suddenly, the boy opened his eyes and fixed them on Joaquim. There was nothing special in the look, nothing particularly mysterious or divine. The one who didn’t know who that look belonged to would have said it was just the simple, tender look of a baby. It was just the look of a boy. But… therein lay the solution to their dilemma.

His King’s gaze was identical to that of a boy who wept in the distance, in his mother’s arms!

Now she understood, and her doubts immediately disappeared. Slowly, unbeknownst to his companions, Joaquim moved away from the running group and left behind. At first he stopped; then, making sure that no one had realized his escape, he began to run in the opposite direction. Couldn’t fly, shouldn’t get anyone’s attention. He was still far away when he saw the woman scream. He had to hurry. He could feel the galloping horses and the shouts of the soldiers approaching. He reached them at last.

The woman, in great suffering, looked about to die, but when she saw Joaquim, she smiled and said:

– Save my son, I beseech you!

There was no time to lose. Joaquim took the boy in his arms and ran down a slope that was beside the path. The soldiers, who arrived at that moment, ended the woman mercilessly and began looking for the boy. At first they seemed unaware of the angel’s presence. Then he heard one of them say:

“I saw something move down there.”

The whole region was full of bushes, and Joaquim had found nothing better than to take refuge in the middle of a rather large one. There was a small cavity inside, and the angel covered the boy with wings, making him invisible. Sitting on the floor, he held him in his arms. He was awake but not crying. She looked at him and almost seemed to smile at him. He looked like the little King. So felt Joaquim, the humanity of men was the humanity of his King. He was immersed in that look and thought when…

Suddenly she felt something she had never experienced before.

– What happened? – thought. – I feel a very strong, penetrating pain.

Something had pierced his left wing. It was a soldier’s spear searching through the bushes. He had pierced his wing and then moved away. Joaquim felt that his light was darkening. He should not experience this physical pain, for he was an angel. And there was something else: now I was afraid!

– Let’s go, there is nobody here!

Joaquim was in pain, but still immersed in the look of the boy in his arms. Because of this boy was for the first time in pain. She could feel how he felt. And yet that look was wonderful. Not because of their innocence, or possible gratitude, given their unconsciousness of what was going on. It was a wonderful look, because identical to that of the little King.

As soon as possible, he emerged from the bushes and headed for the village. When he arrived, he entered a house, saw a completely empty crib, and put the sleeping boy in it. From another room came the weeping of a woman, and she could hear the words of comfort her husband spoke to her. He left quickly. The child would henceforth have a new family, and he needed to return to his group and his mission. The wing hurt, but its new light was now brighter than ever.

 

How important were these little men! Almost as much light could be drunk from them as from the everlasting spring of heaven.

– Joaquim!

He immediately recognized the voice of Miguel, his supreme general, and remained quiet, trembling.

– You and your thoughts! You always have to do what you think!

There was silence and the two looked at each other. However, all who accompanied the general stopped.

– Your disobedience will come at a price.

Another moment of silence followed.

– And your love will have a prize. You will receive your prize, but you will pay a price, because you loved the little King in a strange and new way. You loved him in the closest way to his love, you loved him, loving the men he loves. This shall be your prize, and the price to be paid: you shall be among men and watch over your Lord. You won’t have to go from place to place again to be by your side.

Then Michael approached and, without anyone else listening, added:

– Rejoice, you may behold Him in them, and behold them in Him.

So, in the name of this sweet sentence, there is still, in our day, an angel with a hole in the wing, an angel that everyone can see, because he is there, beside the tabernacle, behind the high altar, in the cathedral of Milan. .

******

– Dad, let’s go, the mass is over.

Little Carlos was pulling Louis’s sleeve.

– You’ve been sleeping all through mass!

– Yes, sorry, son, I was very tired. What did the priest have thought? But you did very well. Now be aware, because the angel with a hole in the wing, the enamored angel of our humanity, the angel Joaquim, wants me to tell you his story while we go home to his mother.

******

In the years of the restoration of the presbytery of the cathedral in Milan (between the 1980s and 1990s) a chapel for non-festive masses was prepared behind the high altar. One of the angels actually had a hole in one wing, in contrast to his mate, who had two perfect wings.

The writer can assure that whoever looks carefully at his face at certain times of the day, when the light that illuminates the chapel is whiter and purer, cannot but perceive in that vigilant and serious face a subtle but cheerful smile. Antonio Anastasio A ward in the wing Madrid, Editions Encuentro, 2008 (Translation and adaptation)

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