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Father Abraham

Father Abraham was getting old, and although he was loath to admit it to himself, he knew that soon it would be his time. But until then, he still had work to do.

Considering the relationship they had developed over the years, God decided that He wasn't simply going to send the sickle of death to cut Father Abraham down. Rather, He called upon Archangel Michael, and told him to convince Father Abraham that the time had come and to ascend with him. "Do not take him until he is ready," He said, "Make sure he has tied up all his loose ends."

Michael came down and told Father Abraham why he had come. "Not now," replied Father Abraham," dismissing him with a wave of the hand and then wiping the sweat from his furrowed brow. He leaned heavily into his plow, the ox pulling it forward straining at the reins. "I still have this field to sow. Otherwise my people will have to do without the spring harvest."

Michael shook his head. "All right," he said, "I'll come back later."

In spring, he returned. "Not now," said Father Abraham, shaking his wispy white beard, his spotted hands covered in blood. "It is birthing season for the sheep, and I must help them through it."

Michael protested for a moment, but seeing as it was useless, he said he'd come back later.

He came back in the fall. "Not now," said Father Abraham, filling his apron with red ripe pomegranates picked from the trees he had long ago planted along the riverbanks. "It is time to harvest what we have worked so hard to plant, and with which the Lord has blessed us."

Michael returned in winter. The harvest was in. The sheep grazed lazily on the hillsides. The plowing and sowing yet awaited. "It's time," said Michael, awaiting the expected reply.

"Let's go for a little walk," said Father Abraham, taking up his staff and throwing his old cloak over his left shoulder.

Together they climbed to the tops of the hills whereby they could peer down into the neighboring villages.

"See there," said Father Abraham, pointing to a village of ramshackle huts, "The harvest has failed, and we must go down and feed them."

They walked on, and looked down into another valley, from where they heard a loud wailing. "There are many people there who are sick with fever. We must go down and heal them."

On they went. From down in the next valley, all they could hear was a rasp of metal against whetstone, as the men sharpened their daggers and spears, the women and children crouching fearfully by themselves at a safe distance. "They are preparing for war," said Father Abraham, "We must go down and teach them another way."

They walked on. The sun was setting, and an angry red sky reflected down into the last valley, from which they heard the muffled keening of women, and an occasional child's cry. And on the ground, beside open pits, wrapped in white cloth from head to foot, were several bodies prepared for burial. "We must go down and comfort them, and let them know that in the face of death, there is always new life springing."

"There is so much left to do," said Father Abraham, returning home.

"That there is," said Michael, scratching his head, and flew off confused to consult further with the Most High as to what to do next.

The next season, as Father Abraham set to plowing again, Michael returned. "The Lord has commanded me to bring you a blessing," he said, and, putting his outstreteched hands on Father Abraham's shoulders, continued, "Blessed are you, for you have fulfilled the purpose for which you were sent."

At that, and hearing the truth winging into new ears, Father Abraham sat down on the half-plowed earth. And there they struck an agreement. Father Abraham ascended with the Archangel Michael, and from that day forth out of the corners of heaven, he has looked down upon the generations of men and blessed those that would feed the poor, heal the sick, seek peace in the world, and console the living, fulfilling the purpose for which we have been sent.