"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood."
~~ Marie Curie

Hi all,

So this isn't exactly what I set out to write but I was a bit pressed on time coordinating my own Halloween party.  But it'll do, I hope.

Happy Halloween, y'all!

God bless,

"Mysterious Ways"

Andrew surveyed himself in the mirror.   As far as Halloween costumes went, he reckoned his own wasn't half bad... especially considering what he could have been stuck with.  October had found him extremely busy with assignments.  When JenniAnn had first brought up the annual Halloween party in Dyeland and requisite costumes just as the angel of death was headed for chaplain duty at a maximum security prison (something he had wisely decided not to tell her), he'd asked her to consult the girls.  He'd agreed to go along with whatever costume they chose for him.  Of the group, Rose and JenniAnn had been the most vocal with the former settling upon a baseball player and the latter wanting Andrew to don early 20th century garb.  Ever the peacemaker, Andrew himself had suggested he might wear an old-time baseball uniform.  The two girls had readily agreed on the compromise and now Andrew was trying the uniform... his own... on.  He couldn't help but feel a sense of satisfaction when he realized that the pant
s and shirt, while perhaps a little snug, still fit.  This was no small accomplishment.  The nearly 100 years since he'd last worn it had seen the dawn of the fast food era... not to mention 11 years of being surrounded by a group of women who provided him with tantalizing treats nearly as often as they heaped love upon him.

Andrew was still smiling at this endearing bit of truth when he heard a knock on his bedroom door.

"Hey there.  You decent?" Rose called.

The angel grinned as he pulled on his cap.  "No.  I'm terrible.  I have an illegal gambling ring going on in here.  Please go away."

His playful response caused a cascade of laughter in the hall.

"Ya know that's not what she meant.  Although if you want us to go away I guess we'll just eat the warm pumpkin brulees all by ourselves..."

Andrew's smile grew as JenniAnn's dramatic sigh sounded through the door which he quickly opened.  "Pumpkin brulees?"

JenniAnn entered and tilted her head towards the door.  "In the kitchen.  It's really just extra pie filling that Lady Beth saved from her pies and baked up.  But 'pumpkin brulee' sounds better than 'leftover pie filling in a cup.'"

"Home run on the costume, Andrew!" the younger woman cried when she stepped into the room.

"I love the hat..." JenniAnn added dreamily.

Andrew pulled his cap off and set it on JenniAnn's head.  "I think it works really well with your Bronte-inspired outfit, too.  I'd offer it to our Hermione here but I don't think it fits in with Hogwarts' dress code."  He smiled at the black robed Rose.

"I love *you* in the hat," JenniAnn clarified, returning the cap to Andrew.

Andrew blushed then waved to the door.  "Thank you.  So should we go grab ourselves some pumpkin brulee and see if Lady Beth needs any help?"

The two women assented and headed down the stairs with Andrew trailing them.  When they reached the kitchen, Lady Beth was checking the pies while Lulu and Fawn looked on eagerly.

"I suspect they need another five minutes," the cook announced.  "Just enough time to enjoy our brulees.  Or go for a game of catch."  She smiled at Andrew.  "It suits you."

Andrew hugged Lady Beth then beamed as she handed him his treat.  "Thank you.  And you make for a great pirate queen, Lady Beth."  He took a bite of the warm dessert.  "Mmm...  Wonderful."

Lady Beth smiled proudly as everyone dug in, even the dogs were supplied with a small amount.  With relish, the woman counted off the various treats awaiting them.  "And I have apple tarts baking over at Willowveil.  C.J. promised to bring the cider.  Rose, JenniAnn, and Aunt Josephine have us loaded down with cookies.  Yva and Willy, of course, are bringing the candy and cocoa.  Beth and Mick insisted on bringing in enough pizza and salad for everyone in thanks for the... how did they put it?"

"'Extreme patience in dealing with Bridezilla and Nitwit Groom moments,'" Rose relayed.

JenniAnn laughed.  "Oh, they haven't been that bad...  But we'll take the food!"

"Definitely," Lady Beth agreed.  "And Vincent said to expect some treats from Below.  So we're definitely covered on food.  Is everything set up outside for the activities?"

Andrew took another bite, nodded, and launched into his best announcer's voice.  "We have an apple bobbing station!  We have Musical Chairs set to Halloween music!  We have a hay maze!  We have a pumpkin painting and carving area!  We have a dance floor!  We have a story corner!  So come on down and bring the kids!"

"How far you've come!" JenniAnn remarked happily, patting Andrew's hand.  "Eleven years ago Halloween sent you into a dither.  And now..."

"Things are different here.  Here I have friends to protect me from the ghouls and goblins and reapers.  And if Halloween makes them happy... it makes me happy," Andrew finished.

"Aww!" the three women murmured in unison.

Andrew chuckled.  "I love how that works.  It's getting nearly as predictable as my blushing."

"Well, hopefully predictable will be the word for this party," Rose mused.  "It's been such a hectic month for everyone.  We need to unwind and have some..."

The door bell rang, cutting Rose off.  The odd timing caused the women to look warily at the angel.

"It's probably Adam.  He said he might stop by early to see if we needed any help," Andrew explained after swallowing the final bite of his brulee.  He rose from his chair and headed into the hall.

Eager to see the elder angel of death who had been absent for some time, Rose and JenniAnn leapt to their feet, too.  Lady Beth hung back just long enough to remove her pies then dashed after them.

"Oooh, Andrew, wait," JenniAnn called as they approached the door.  "I think you got a bit of glitter from Lady Beth's costume.  Don't want Adam to go all big brother-y teasing on you."  She brushed at her own cheek.

Andrew turned to her and brushed at his face while Lady Beth and Rose proceeded to the door.  "Better?"

"Well, now it's on your chin.  And some by your temple.  Just... here."  JenniAnn approached and began to brush the glitter away herself.  She was standing on tiptoe and trying to remove a stubborn fleck of black when Rose opened the door.

"Hey Adam," Andrew called though his back was to the door.

"Violeta, actually," a female voice responded.

JenniAnn's hand dropped
abruptly from the angel of death's face a split second before he spun around to face the door.

A beautiful woman with jet black hair and bright green eyes which perfectly matched her sleek dress was looking curiously from Andrew to JenniAnn to Rose to Lady Beth.  She seemed to flinch slightly when she noticed the two dogs rolling on the carpet. 

"Welcome, Violeta," Andrew greeted, moving forward and extending his hand which the woman primly shook.  "Are you, uh, from the Tunnels?"

The newcomer looked at him as if the suggestion offended her.  "No...  I'm from Records and Permanent Files."

"Another angel!" Andrew cried.  "That's great!  It's so good to have you here!  Well, I'm Andrew.  And these are my friends."  He smiled brightly at the three women.  "Lady Beth there in the pirate costume.  JenniAnn's channeling Jane Eyre.  And Rose aka Hermione." 

All three waved shyly as Andrew spoke their names.

Violeta's gaze traveled over the three of them and stopped at JenniAnn. 

"We're humans!" the blonde woman blurted out.

"Yes.  I'm very aware.  Trust me," Violeta assured.  "I'm sorry if I interrupted... something."

JenniAnn began to turn crimson under the angel's stare.  "He, umm, glitter from..."  She pointed to Lady Beth.  "Her costume.  On his face.  Just trying to..."  She stopped after realizing that her mutterings were only making the situation seem more bizarre.

Andrew smiled serenely, completely unbothered by what his visitor had witnessed and hoping JenniAnn would stop fretting.  "Halloween costume snafu," he explained.  "JenniAnn wisely recognized that glitter isn't generally part of a ball player's look... especially not during the early 1900s.  So, Violeta, what brings you here?
  Did Ronald invite you?  We told him he should invite any friends he wanted.  I think it's great that he went ahead and..."

Violeta shook her head.  "No.  Ronald didn't invite me.  Although I do seem to recall seeing an invitation on the bulletin board.  And I do I know him quite well.  But I'm here because the Father told me I'm supposed to start training with you part-time," she answered matter-of-factly.  "I'd heard you were off this evening so thought I might have a chance of introducing myself but as you're busy I can..."

Andrew's eye brow arched.  "Training with me?" 

Violeta nodded.  "Just sometimes.  I will be keeping my post in Records, too.  I couldn't possibly leave now.  I helped introduce the new peer feedback interview process and need to be around to implement it, after all.  But the Father feels I should know a little about how angels of death function and working with you was an ideal way to bring that about."

The smile on Andrew's face widened into a grin.  He looked upwards for confirmation and, upon receiving it, could barely contain his excitement. 
It wasn't merely the prospect of advancement that thrilled him.  In fact, that was only a small part of it.  He was overjoyed at the opportunity to, once again, work cases alongside someone else.  "The Father's letting me supervise another angel!" his jovial voice sounded as he turned to the three women.

Love shone from the faces of his three friends.  Though the evening wasn't going at all as they had planned, seeing Andrew so happy lightened their own hearts.  A sixteen year old boy being handed the keys to a new car couldn't have looked so thrilled.

Violeta, however, seemed less than pleased with the characterization but nodded.  "Yes, I suppose.  Although I can assure you that as I'm several centuries old I won't need much supervising.  I've always been highly dependable and efficient.  In fact, I've even worked some with the Angel of Angels and he once said to me that I was..."

Rose, her smile faltering, stepped back towards JenniAnn and groaned.  "Andrew finally gets a trainee and he's stuck with the angelic version of Percy Weasley!"

"Rose!" JenniAnn hissed although it would have been obvious to anyone who knew her that she was quickly becoming less than impressed with the newbie.  She sighed.  "Look at how happy and proud Andrew is...  So let's just..."

"And I've no doubt at all that our time together, though mutually rewarding, will be brief as I've always progressed very quickly," Violeta continued.

JenniAnn glared at the angel then, after an elbow to the ribs from Lady Beth, drew in a deep breath before speaking.  "Try to be nice.  And welcoming."

Rose stepped out of Lady Beth's reach.  "Fine.  But if she keeps acting that pompously towards our Andrew *then* I'm gonna show her just how dependable and efficient I can be in dealing with a twit who disrespects Amish Boy..."

"Lady Beth, Laja, Rose... why don't you come help me show Violeta around so she can get a feel for how our party's gonna go?  She's staying!" Andrew announced cheerfully once Violeta had finished her speech.

"Sure!" Lady Beth answered a little too giddily.  When Andrew's and Violeta's backs were turned, she shot stern glances at Rose and JenniAnn.

"It'd be an honor!" JenniAnn called.

"Definitely!" Rose agreed.

With that, one beaming angel of death, three concerned women, a rather sulky newcomer, and two blissfully ignorant dogs walked out onto the dusky lawn.


Dinner had been eagerly devoured and the entertainment portion of the Dyeland Halloween party was in full swing.  As Andrew, beaming with pride, introduced Violeta around; a small group of his friends observed from near the willow tree.  After a strained looking Violeta parted from Willy and Yva, the conversation began.

"It is a little odd.  I'll give you ladies that," Adam commented from beneath the wooly beard of his Hagrid costume.  "Not so much the Father springing her on Andrew like that.  He did the same thing with Gloria and Monica.  He does like to surprise us."  The faux half-giant smiled fondly.  "But this is a bigger surprise than most.  I've never heard of someone being an angel of death in training.  Usually an angel goes from working with a supervisor as a caseworker and then striking out on their own.  Sometimes as an angel of death.  Sometimes a supervisor caseworker themselves.  The possibilities are endless but this..."

Henry shrugged beneath his firefighter's helmet.  "I've also never heard of anyone going from a department like Records right into angel of death cases.  Maybe that's why the Father gave Violeta a supervisor.  Ease the extreme transition.  I mean humans in peril are a little different than stacks of paper."

"A little?" Lady Beth checked with a smirk.

"A lot different," Henry corrected.  He began to count off the differences in hopes of lightening the women's moods.  "Humans are nicer to hug.  It's more difficult to get paper cuts from them.  They tend to complain if you attempt to stuff them in a cabinet..."

Adam laughed.  "I think they'd also complain if you tried to three-hole punch them." 

The girls gave token smiles but remained transfixed by the two angels across the way. 

Adam and Henry exchanged glances over their heads and the former opted to try a different tack.  "Well, I know one thing for sure: our buddy there's going to make a great supervisor.  Isn't that right, girls?"

Rose, JenniAnn, and Lady Beth were silent as they disconcertingly observed Andrew trying to convince Violeta to give bobbing for apples a try.

"Girls?" Adam repeated.

Lady Beth, whose initial optimism regarding Violeta had given way to doubt, jumped.  "Huh?"

The silver-haired angel of death chuckled and pulled the three into a hug.  "Now, now...  You're not feeling jealous, I hope.  Because Andrew's still going to love you as much as he always has."

"Yeah... we know," JenniAnn assured.  "It's just... Violeta seems so..."

"Non-Andrew-like?" Henry suggested.

"Yes!  Exactly!"  JenniAnn nodded fervently.  "I mean... Andrew's so warm and... and cuddly.  And when he worked with Monica and Tess... well, I know they at least tried to comfort him.  And when we've been able to be with him during the occasional assignment, well..."

"Andrew was certainly never starved for affection then."  Adam's eyes twinkled.

"I should hope not!  And I also think we've all... you two definitely included... made Andrew feel better about expressing his playful side."  Lady Beth waved to the apple bobbing area which Andrew and his protege had abandoned when the latter refused to give it a try.  "But what if she undoes all that?  Violeta just seems so... well, cool and... fussy and..."

"Percy-like!  Just like I said!" Rose added, eying Violeta as she stared dispassionately at Andrew who had Shelby
giggling on his shoulders as he raced through the maze.  "She doesn't exactly scream AOD material, either."

"And yet the Father always knows what He's doing.  And He always has a plan for us," Henry reminded.  "And He must know that somewhere inside of her, Violeta has everything it takes to be a great angel of death.  And who better to bring those qualities out of her than our friend there?"

Five sets of eyes gazed lovingly at the angel of death as he completed the maze, lifted the little girl from his shoulders, hugged her tenderly, and swooped up the next excited child before darting into the maze again.


As the party began to wind down, the remaining attendees gathered around Vincent to hear a story.  Though the teacher was as diligent as always in choosing a tale that would neither frighten the children nor offend the angels, JenniAnn found herself feeling agitated.  She knew it didn't have anything to do with her godfather but, instead, with the stranger seated next to Andrew.  Violeta's gaze kept traveling around the circle of friends, never looking entirely pleased.  As much as JenniAnn trusted what Adam and Henry had said and believed that God knew what He was doing... her faith in the free will of an absolute stranger was wavering.  It didn't help that she'd caught the other women looking distrustfully at Violeta, too.

To clear her mind, JenniAnn wandered away and began to box up leftover food.  She hadn't been at it long when she felt someone squeeze her shoulder.

"Let me help, Laja," Andrew offered.

She shook her head and smiled up at him.  "Thanks.  But you go spend time with Violeta.  It's so wonderful you have a trainee.  Congratulations, Andrew.  I should have said so earlier I was just so... so stunned.  I mean not that you'd be a supervisor!  But just that..."  Her voice drifted off.

Andrew chuckled.  "Not exactly the protege you imagined for me?"

JenniAnn sighed, relieved that she wouldn't need to give voice to her sentiments.  "She's just so...  Proper and prim.  And... skeptical-seeming.  And not at all like... well, you.  I spose I'm just having a hard time wondering why the Father paired the two of you up like that."  She was surprised when Andrew began to blush.

"Well, see...  He didn't exactly.  I mean... He obviously knew we'd wind up working together because He knows everything.  But Violeta told me that He let her choose her own supervisor.  And can you believe she chose me?" he asked incredulously.

"Yes!" JenniAnn exclaimed.  "I've long thought it a wonder the whole host of Heaven isn't vying for the chance to work cases with you!  In fact, if I were your protege... I'd decline promotions just to stay with you.  If the Father allowed it, I mean."

The angel of death's blush deepened.  "Laja..."

"Well, I would!"

Andrew only hugged her in response.

JenniAnn silently enjoyed the moment before her curiosity kicked in.  "So... did Violeta say why she picked you?"

"Uh huh."

"And... ya gonna tell me?"

"'There's no crying in baseball,'" Andrew quoted.

JenniAnn pulled away and noticed that Andrew was looking misty-eyed though he was smiling.  "What did she say?" she pressed warily.

"You're going to make me disobey Tom Hanks," the angel teased.

"He seems a good sort.  He'll forgive you," JenniAnn assured with a smile.  "So?"

"So Violeta told me that, since she is in Records, she read the case files of each candidate the Father presented her with.  And she said..."  Tears once again welled up in Andrew's eyes though he looked completely untroubled.  "Violeta said she read about November 2009... when I was homeless.  She read about how all of you did what you could for me in the days that followed.  And then she read about last October... how all of you came to support me when I was in West Hollow.  Laja, I know she seems a little brusque.  And a little proud.  But she certainly wouldn't be the first angel with pride issues."  Andrew's cheeks colored slightly before he continued.  "Violeta herself knows she needs to develop her people skills more.  And she wants to.  She told me that she wanted to pick a supervisor who seemed to be the most adept at dealing with humans.  So she said that when she read the files for those two assignments... she decided that any angel who caused his friends to leave the comfort of their own homes... for him... well, he had to have a 'finely hewed rapport with them.'"  Andrew smiled at the eloquent turn of phrase Violeta had used.  "So she chose me.  Because of you and the others.  You're all a big part of why I'm a supervisor now.  Thank you for that."

JenniAnn stared up at the angel.  There was no mistaking the well-earned pride on his face.  It wasn't just for himself on reaching a new milestone.  Nor was it solely for the fellow angel he'd taken under his wing.  His eyes shone as he looked over at his friends gathered in the circle and when he smiled down on her.  It was JenniAnn's turn to be speechless.  She hugged Andrew tightly.  Peering around his shoulder, JenniAnn glimpsed Violeta.  The angel was laughing along with the others as Vincent finished his amusing tale.  She seemed slightly embarrassed by her own glee and covered her smile but her eyes betrayed her.  JenniAnn felt her feelings towards the angel softening.  Anyone who chose Andrew had to be someone special.

"Happy Halloween, Laja," Andrew wished quietly.

"Happy Halloween, Andrew."

The angel smiled up at the stars.  "The happiest," he murmured gratefully as a dove flew across the moonlit sky.

The End

On Halloween, in a rather goofy way, we confront our fears via the monsters, ghouls, and maniacs that come to our doors begging for candy.  But there are times in our lives when our fears are a bit more serious and require far more of us than a Snickers bar.  Fear of death, fear of violence, fear of abandonment, fear of failure, etc.  But through his roles and his own actions, John gave us tools to combat these fears.  Andrew taught us not to fear death and to recognize that even amid cruelty compassion can be found.  Both as Andrew and as himself, John spoke of a loving God who would never leave us and who will forgive us even when we're not perfect.  Thus, this newsletter is dedicated to John's ability to calm our fears and make us feel safe.  May we hold onto those lessons until the day when we are with him and with God.


JABB 341

(The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)