His black eyes surveyed the desolation and destruction. It was complete. Bloated animal carcasses were scattered amid the human remains, and both gave off a grotesque odor that spoke of death. Oil fires sent up plumes of smoke. black tendrils like snakes rose from burning vehicles. Dusty winds blew across the dry and burning landscape, coating everything with a combination of soot and grime.
Michael searched the horizon expectantly. Then he saw it: in the distance stood a small group of dust-covered survivors—The Remnant. Those Michael and his comrades were pledged to protect.
The Remnant simultaneously saw Michael and his comrades as he looked on. . And he saw fear and terror in their eyes. He always had that effect on people, he ruefully thought.
However, there was one set of eyes that didn’t express fear, and suddenly a small girl broke away from the group and ran toward Michael, her blonde ponytails swinging madly as she approached.
“You saved us!” she burst out. “You saved us!” Her small arms hugged his legs; her face was buried in the space between them. She was not even up to his knees.
He gently patted her head as he looked at tthe wo people in The Remnant he assumed were her parents. They motioned desperately for her to return to their group. They appeared terrified, but Michael put up his hand, his palm forward, indicating his acceptance of the girl’s impulsive actions and that no harm would come to her.
“You’re safe” he said simply to the small girl. ‘”We took care of them. “
She slowly pulled her face away from his legs, and looked up at him. Her green eyes were like brilliant emeralds set against her blackened, grime-filled face.
“Are they really gone?” She asked. “I mean really, really gone?” The tone in her small voice was a mixture of expectancy and fear.
“Yes” he replied simply.” They’re gone.”
Michael turned to face his comrades and in doing so, his back was exposed to the girl.
The girl gasped.
"You’re hurt!" She exclaimed.
Michael quickly turned around and faced her once again, turning his back away from her startled gaze. “I am so sorry you saw that,” Michael said. “But It does not concern you. Someone as young as yourself doesn’t deserve to see the suffering that is all around you. This is what happens in war.”
“But what happens now?” she said anxiously. .
He smiled. He liked children.
“What’s your name”, he asked.
“”Lucinda...it’s Lucinda,” she said.
“Lucinda, I am Michael, and I and my friends will be taking you home. To your real home,” he said.
“But this is home," she said. And her eyes welled with tears and she began sobbing as she looked around her at the wreckage of the town and residence she once loved and called home. The tears mixed with the soot on her face to create black tracks down her cheeks.
“Yes, but your home—and the world—will be renewed.” he replied.
Lucinda cocked her head to one side and looked puzzled. “But I don’t know what that word ‘renewal’ means” she said, with a hint of embarrassment and curiosity.
“It is the most important word for you to know right now,” Michael said, as the faintest hint of a smile crossed his face. He stooped down, his powerful black eyes now just a few inches from hers. He carefully brushed a few stray hairs from her eyes. Lucinda thought he was silent for a long time…Then he spoke:
“Lucinda, have you ever had a play doll?”
“Yes,” she said sadly, “but it’s gone now, like our home.”
He nodded thoughtfully, but continued.
“But when you had it, did you like it so much you played constantly with it, until it got dirty and frayed?”
“Oh, yes!” She exclaimed. “But my mother knew how special it was to me, so she cleaned it, and sewed up the frayed edges, and…”
“…And she made it like new,” Michael said. “Isn’t that right?”
“Yes,” the girl said. “Like new. And It was better than ever”. Her eyes sparkled with the memory.
“And that is what renewal is. Making something like new.
And that is what will happen to your home--to everyone’s home. Everything will be renewed.”
“Look. I want you to imagine something, Lucinda” he said, now putting his hands on her little shoulders.
“Suppose your mother not only made your doll like new, but made it more beautiful than you had ever seen it. The new fabric shone like the brightest sun, the lifeless eyes became alive and looked at your face with love, and it would never ever get dirty, or frayed. And it would be like that…forever.”
“That would be the most wonderful!!” She exclaimed. And for the first time a bright radiant smile burst from her face. She wiped the tears away from her face, making her hands black from the soot on her cheeks and forehead. But Lucinda didn’t care.
“And I would love that doll with all my heart and soul!” she said excitedly. .
“And that is like the home you are going to,” Michael said.
“To a place that is too good to be true.
A place of love and joy, where all of this (he waved his muscular arms around him)
That is what renewal means”.
She looked up at him with excitement, as if she had just been given a beautiful wrapped present that looked so good she almost didn’t want to open it.
“Now, go back to your parents and tell them about this,” he said.
“About the new world they’ll soon have. About renewal.”
“But I don’t think I can do it,” she said.
“I’m not even sure I’ll remember the word. It’s a big word. I’m not sure I even remember it now!” she exclaimed. Lucinda looked desperately into his eyes.
“Why don’t you go and tell them,” she pleaded. “You know everything!”
““Because, Lucinda, your parents and their friends don’t know me and they are afraid of what they don’t know. But hey know you. And love you.”
Michael motioned to one of his comrades close by who immediately gave him paper and pencil.
“Here. I’ll write the word down for you so you won’t forget. It will remind you of what to say to your family and friends when you return to them.”
He handed the paper to Lucinda.
There, in the center of the paper, was the word 'Renewal'. But it seemed more than a word to Lucinda. She thought the letters seemed alive, to pulsate and shine.
And as she stared at the word in amazement, she heard the strong voice of Michael.
“Now, be off” he said, and gave her a gentle push back towards The Remnant--towards her parents and friends.
From a distance Michael watched with interest Lucinda’s return to The Remnant, and to her parents in particular. As they began listening to Lucinda, he saw them begin to bitterly laugh at her. Michael knew what they must be saying to her:
“This is home. There will be no new home. . Home is this desolate, death-saturated, forsaken patch of smoldering destruction.
We know it.
We see it.
We live it.
There is no hope.”
As Michael looked on grimly, his jaw set, he motioned to the girl to rejoin him. Again, he signaled to the parents she would be safe with him. This time though, she slowly walked to him, without the joy and exuberance she had so impulsively displayed earlier.
As she joined him, she didn’t meet his eyes. She gazed downward.
“Lucinda, “he gently said. ”Did they not believe you?”
She gave the slightest nod in reply.
“They told me there is no hope” she quietly said.
Michael wrapped his powerful arms around her. For a long time, neither of them spoke.
Finally, Michael interrupted the silence. He broke his embrace and his black eyes stared at here with an intensity that seemed to pierce her very soul.
“Lucinda, we talked about a word you didn’t know,
“Now Lucinda, I am going to give you another word, but this word is not for you but for your father and mother and their friends to think about. You needn’t remember it or know what it is, because I will again write it down for you to deliver to them. Will you do this for me?’ he said.
Again, Lucinda gave a slight nod.
“What’s the word?” She said hesitantly.
“‘Here.” Michael said, as he handed the piece of paper to her.
And there it was. In the middle of the paper. One word.
Lucinda’s eyes widened. She said nothing. The small girl looked up at Michael, and a thousand questions formed on her lips. Could he possibly be? Was he? But weren’t angels supposed to have wings? He certainly didn’t have any of those. But then she remembered his back and the wounds she saw. And what about his ‘friends’? Who were they, really?
“Do you know this word, Lucinda?” Michael said, interrupting her thoughts.
For the first time, she lifted her gaze to see his kind, but powerful eyes.
“Yes, I do” she slowly said.
“But I think it’s the wrong word”, she said.
“And why is that” Michael replied, surprise registering on his face.
“I think it should be Archangel” she said slowly. .
Michael laughed heartily, marveling at this precocious little girl.
“Yes, indeed” he said. And he lifted her up into his powerful arms, hugging her tightly. And although he would never admit it, a single tear formed on the corner of both eyes.
“Now, you must go back, and give your parents and their friends this word. And with it, a message:
There is hope. With God, all things are possible.”
She didn’t say anything, but backed up slowly, continually facing him as she stepped carefully backwards to her parents. As she reached her parents Michael looked at the heavens. He had done his job. The enemy was vanquished. Now what would happen?
Could this be the time for The Renewal? he thought. Oh, how he hoped it was.
But no one knew.
Then he felt it--deep within his heart, a warmth and power he didn’t realize he had burst forth.
It was time.
And Michael saw Lucinda and her parents read the message, that single word that caused them to gaze with astonishment at him. And there, in front of them, he spread two, powerful, magnificent wings…wings that were not there a moment ago. Wings with a thousand radiant feathers, each one as unique and beautiful as ice crystals. Wings that had been…renewed.
And then Michael drew his sword, lifted it to heaven, and with the voice of a thousand winds, shouted
“And behold…He makes all things new…”
And it happened.
In a lightning flash,
In the blink of an eye
In a single heartbeat
Fires were quenched.
Parched riverbeds were anointed with water,
Wastelands became fertile.
Animals replenished desolate habitats.
Sickness became health.
Darkness became light
And Death became Eternal life.
And as this miracle occurred Lucinda ran towards Michael but he suddenly disappeared. When she reached the place he once was, she saw on the ground, her small long-lost doll, shining with the brilliant warmth of the sun, with a face radiant and its eyes alive and loving.
And Lucinda understood. Renewal had come. To everything.