|"No man can put a chain
about the ankle
of his fellow man
without at last finding
other end fastened about his own neck."
Ya know, when I was 15 and we first started this... I just never
thought that one day I'd be sitting down to write the 331st.
Now with that random moment of astonishment behind me...
4th of July to those of ya in/from the States! I hope you
the long weekend and have a wonderful celebration!
Because I'm hoping to relax some myself, I decided to keep this
simple. And for me sometimes stories are easier than top
especially when they're partly pre-written. This story idea
to me as Memorial Day approached but I was too swamped to take it
then. So it makes sense on Independence Day, too. My
feeling has always been that the Dyelanders probly celebrate the
holidays of all the countries, religions, and cultures that are
their lil group. So a 4th of July barbecue sounded like
they might do. Or maybe I just wanted to visualize Andrew in
a Kiss Hug
And now... a "Moment with Andrew" story...
It was a heavenly July 4th
evening in the Fields of Gold. The air was warm but not
suffocatingly so. The sun shone brightly on the lush,
green grass and colorful wildflowers. A light breeze swept
trees where most of the
adult Independence Day celebrants sat visiting. Strains of
patriotic tunes emanated from a small band stationed in the
gazebo. Light from citronella
torches and candles completed the feeling of enchantment.
As excited children chased
butterflies and imagined the fireworks show to come later,
JenniAnn dashed from picnic table to blanket taking dinner
the Dyelanders and Tunnel dwellers. Once she'd checked
with everyone, she ran to the man standing expectantly near the
"All right... thus far we
orders for 21 hamburgers, 18 cheeseburgers, 5 TLS burgers, and
brats," JenniAnn read off of her notepad.
"Comin' right up," Andrew
responded as he began tossing patties and bratwursts onto the
grill in front of him. Once they had all begun to cook,
smiled out at the crowd and chuckled.
"What is it?" his friend
The chef shrugged.
really. I was just thinking about how different this is
first American Independence Day... well, *the* first American
"I would imagine this is a
"Oh yeah..." the angel
with a nod. "And I have to say, I prefer what I'm wearing
to what I was wearing 235 years ago. I was not sorry to
stockings and wigs go out of fashion!" Andrew cringed,
few ensembles he wished he could forget. Then he grinned
cocking his head, looked at the woman at his side.
"What?" JenniAnn asked, checking to see if she'd spilled
"Just wonderin' what the fine people of 1776 Philadelphia would
made of you," Andrew mused, studying her ankle-length red and
tie-dyed hippie dress complete with peace sign necklace.
"Oh, I dunno... probly woulda wondered what the strangely clad
was doing clinging to the much more sensibly and gloriously
in cravat, waistcoat,
etc.... lovely man with huge sideburns." JenniAnn sighed
then slyly checked to see if she'd succeeded in making Andrew
blush. She smiled when she noted she had.
Andrew chuckled. "Now there's a mental image! And
cravats... I didn't care for those, either."
JenniAnn giggled, taking a
moment to admire his much more modern jeans and red button-down
white t-shirt. "And I suppose you had no ye olde Hug the
apron back then?"
Andrew blushed again and
at the apron he was wearing, a gift from the girls after he'd
volunteered to man the grill. It had originally read "Kiss
Cook" but after a few glares from Tess, Yva had appliquéd
word "Hug" over "Kiss." "I did not," he responded.
was your assignment back on
July 4th, 1776, anyhow?"
keeper. So I was cooking a
lot of food that night, too. Not very well, of
Thomas Jefferson never complained but John Adams... well, that's
another story." Andrew smirked as he seasoned
the burgers. "Let's just say it wasn't as
as cooking for friends... and after some lessons."
While Andrew focused on the
grill, JenniAnn considered that the novelty of hearing him speak
history as he lived it should have worn off after eleven
But sometimes the momentousness of it hit her anew and, for a
moment, made it all seem impossible. Surely someone
who had walked among the Founding Fathers couldn't *really* be
mere inches from her...
Andrew set the spices down and caught JenniAnn looking at him as
feared any minute he'd dissolve into a ray of light. Not
for her to follow the explicit directions on his apron, he
her. "Really here, Laja," he assured.
"Thank God," she praised softly.
Andrew nodded and began to silently count his own
stunning as it was to JenniAnn that he should be there, that
sometimes still caught the angel off-guard. It seemed too
be true that a bunch of humans would want him around... as often
possible... for eleven years. But it was true and he was
Just as the two drew apart,
Andrew's bid to
keep JenniAnn grounded received help. The sound of a
child plummeted her back to
reality and immediately roused him from his musings.
The two grown-ups looked
find Shelby staring at them with tears streaking down her
Once she realized she'd been noticed, the girl threw her arms
"Sweetheart, what's wrong?"
Andrew checked, taking her hands and crouching down.
Shelby opened her mouth to
respond but only a sob came out. She buried her face in
Andrew and JenniAnn
"Shelby, did you get bee
or a scrape?" the woman checked, kneeling beside the two.
A silent shake of the
head was the only answer.
"Did one of the other kids
something to you?" JenniAnn tried.
That time there was a nod
Andrew looked over at
in disbelief. The Tunnel children had the occasional
disagreements like all kids. But they had been raised in
welcoming, compassionate, loving environment that teasing
were few and far between. His heart going out to her, he
the girl and patted her back soothingly.
JenniAnn stroked her
hair. "Would you like to tell us what they said, Shelby?"
She shrugged and remained
"How about you stay here
Psyche and me for a few minutes and help us with the food?" the
of death suggested, hoping that some distraction might calm the
little one down enough to enable her to open up. "I need
those burgers and hot dogs up there so maybe you could help me
make sure I get them all."
Shelby at last raised her
and nodded. "'Kay, I will."
Andrew beamed at her.
"Great." He stood and lifted the child onto his hip,
burgers with his free hand as she watched like a hawk.
Around the twentieth flip,
Shelby rested her head on Andrew's shoulder. JenniAnn
smiled as she opened the side dish containers. Only the
week, when she'd brought the kids over
for some much-needed play time in the sun, Andrew had commented
how quickly Shelby was growing up. He'd smiled proudly but
was a wistfulness in his eyes... as if he could already see the
when she'd brush past him with a quick hug and be more
his car keys than the coloring books he kept stocked for the
kids. It was good to see him have a tender moment
the child who still very obviously needed him.
After flipping the last burger, Andrew smiled again at
"Thank you for helping. But now... how about we talk about
got you so upset? I know sometimes it's hard to talk about
feelings... even for angels. But it's important and it
helps." He carefully sat the girl down on a bench and took
seat to her right, leaving room for JenniAnn to her left.
"I... I heard some of the older boys talking. About
wars," Shelby confided quietly as fresh tears pooled in her
"What did they say about soldiers
that made you sad?" Andrew questioned
"Evan wondered if..." The little one paused and shook her
if trying to banish her own thoughts. She peered into
face but said no more.
Andrew frowned. He was glad that Shelby's distress wasn't
remark but troubled by her reticence. The angel knew that
between Memorial Day and the 4th of July, Vincent always did a
of American History with special emphasis on the armed
He was a passionate, gifted teacher and it didn't surprise
all that the kids would be discussing his lessons. Maybe
had overheard something Vincent himself would never
have taught to her age group. But what? And why was
reluctant to tell?
"Shelby, are you worried about getting Evan in trouble?"
tried. "Because we won't be angry. There's nothing
"I know b-but..." Shelby looked to her teacher and then
Andrew. In a torrent, the words came out.
wondered if you'd ever... ever been in a war. And...
and..." Tears began to cascade down her cheeks
"Asher said he knew you had cause he remembered one Christmas
late because you... you... at a war. I don't want
you to be
in wars, Andrew! People get hurt in wars!" As her
increased, the little girl clamored onto the angel's lap.
As they had when she first appeared, the two adults exchanged
glances. Andrew hadn't considered that Shelby's tears were
him. He'd been prepared to boost her bruised feelings or
a childish, irrational fear. But this... He knew he
couldn't very well tell the girl it would never happen. It
had. Many times over the course of his long life.
After a prayer, the words he needed came to the angel.
tenderly pried the little girl away from him so he could look
face. "Shelby, sweetheart, sometimes things happen.
some people get to thinking that other people don't deserve to
lives. And so... so they do mean things to them. And
other people... they need to stand up for the people being
harmed. Those people risk everything to help others, to
make the world a better and freer place. They give so
Shelby. So much. And God wants them to have angels
them. Taking care of them, protecting them, talking to
they're scared. Because He loves them so much and it's so
important to Him that they are never, ever alone. And I
honored when He asks me to be one of those angels. I don't
war. But I love all of you. And I will be there
God asks me to be... whether in war or in peace. Do you
understand that?" Andrew asked, brushing some tear-soaked hair
from the child's face.
"Y-yes. B-but... could you get hurt?" Shelby prodded.
glanced over at JenniAnn who
was staring at the ground. He squeezed her hand, wishing
didn't know as much as she did. "Sometimes
angels... well, our spirits can get hurt during wars," he
speaking to the woman as much as to the child. "But not...
badly hurt as humans can be. And that's why we need to be
there. For them. And you know that Christmas Asher
mentioned? I did come back from a war. A little
But I was there. And I was so happy to see all of
know you were too little to remember, Shelby, but you were
And I picked you up and you gave me the biggest smile!"
whole face lit up when the grown Shelby smiled at the
"And any hurt I felt... it just went away when I saw that smile
yours and all the smiles from all our friends. And it's
going to be that way. And we just need to pray that it's
for each and every person, human or angel, who leaves their home
what they can to make the world a better, more peaceful
"'Kay," Shelby agreed. She hugged Andrew then slid off his
The angel and JenniAnn watched as she knelt on the grass.
"Dear God," Shelby began, "please protect the soldiers and the
send to be with them. And please let all the people who
know that angels are there, too. And that they love
Thank you. Love, Shelby. Amen."
"Amen," Andrew and JenniAnn echoed, blinking back tears but
"Andrew?" Shelby's big eyes once again stared up at his.
"Yeah?" The angel prepared himself for whatever other
tiny girl might be wrestling with.
"Is dinner ready?"
"Dinner!" Andrew cried, leaping to his feet and throwing open
of the grill. He smiled with relief when he found the
brats weren't charred. In fact, they were perfect.
raised his eyes to the heavens, offering a prayer of
"Looks like Lady Beth won't need to give me repeat lessons," he
as he removed the meat from the grill. "It's ready!" he
At Andrew's call, the blankets and picnic tables were abandoned
everyone was soon eagerly loading up their plates.
As Andrew and JenniAnn made their way to the table Adam and Rose
waving them towards, they passed a group of kids piled onto a
blanket. Shelby was speaking animatedly to her brother,
Millie, and some others.
"And Andrew said it was an honor to be with the soldiers
And that even when it's hard, we
make him feel
better. And that we just gotta pray for the soldiers and
families," she told.
JenniAnn smiled up at Andrew as they walked away. "I think
handled that very well. Shelby's clearly much more at
"And how about yourself?" the angel checked.
"Every day countless people wake up wondering when... and if...
husbands, wives, children, parents are coming home. And
think about what they must be seeing,
experiencing, finding themselves
having to do..." JenniAnn shook her head. "We've all
those same thoughts when we knew you were in war torn
But we always knew you were coming home, Andrew. They
don't. So we count our blessings and we pray that one day
ever has to have those thoughts or experiences again. And
in the meantime, they know their loved ones are never, ever
Andrew nodded. "I've been praying and hoping for that day
long time, Laja. And one day... one day I have to believe
with the Father's help, it's going to come."
No sooner had Andrew finished speaking than Tess struck up with
she had chosen to stand in for grace. It was a song that
the hope in the heart of every person in that field, angels and
be peace on earth
it begin with me.
there be peace on earth,
that was meant to be.
as our Father,
all are we.
walk with my brother
Peace on Earth" was written by Sy Miller and Jill
Credits: The photographs
used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS
Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.
not being used to seek profit.)