"It was no accident me finding you.
Someone had a hand in it long before we ever knew."
~from Tracy Byrd's "Keeper of the Stars"

Hi all,

Sometimes the strangest things inspire me to write a story.  This was originally supposed to be a more detailed flash forward... but then an image of a baggie of forty* dimes tied up with a hair ribbon came into my head.  And then my iTunes kept playing "Keeper of the Stars."  So... now it's a story stemming from the distant past and set in the recent past, the present, and the future.  I guess that makes sense since the hero of this tale lives in all three.  One theme I've been really drawn to of late is how the reverberations of the past impact the lives of those living in the present.  Easter seems like a pretty good time to further explore that since that's exactly what Easter is about.  I hope you enjoy!

Have a blessed Passover, Easter, and entry into Spring!

God bless,

*So I completely got confused and referenced "forty pieces of silver" repeatedly in the story below.  I've since changed all uses to thirty except this initial one. 

The Keeper's Story

Easter Sunday 2013

It was nearly dawn when Andrew finally returned to Serendipity after taking a long walk.  Lulu made a beeline for their bed but the angel remained in his living room, still needing to think over the past few days.  His caseload had been relatively light but life in Dyeland had been a blur of activity and emotion.  For weeks there had been building and painting and packing and hauling all of which had culminated in Max's move to Selini that Thursday.  While the angel rejoiced in the momentous step the young man had taken... and Max's obvious delight at being so near to Rose... it had been a bittersweet day.  Andrew knew he'd still see Max often but now his house seemed very empty and eerily quiet and the main guest room was simply that again.  And then there was JenniAnn...  She'd plastered on a smile and busied herself organizing Max's linen closet and stocking his pantry.  But then had come the ride back to DC that night.  Andrew had no more than started the boat's engine before the woman had begun to sob.  JenniAnn's mood hadn't improved by Good Friday.  Although, Andrew reminded himself, his friend tended to be morose on that date no matter the circumstances.  At least JenniAnn had seemed to enjoy herself as they helped set up the egg hunt earlier in the day.  And yet, while their friendship was more solid than it had ever been, the woman sometimes seemed locked away in thoughts and feelings she wouldn't share with him.  Even though Andrew knew what weighed so heavily on JenniAnn at those times, he couldn't bring himself to broach the subject.  At least not with her.  But there was Someone...

Andrew sighed and stared up at his living room ceiling.  "I know You have Your plan.  I do.  And I trust You.  And it's not that I want another life for either of us... for any of us.  But..."

"But sometimes it's hard to accept that someone you care about sacrificed something they cherished... for you."

The angel of death turned towards the direction of the voice.  He smiled when he saw Joshua leaning against the door frame with his arms folded over his chest.  "Hi and, uh, yeah.  I didn't really expect you to, well, to come here.  I mean not like..."

"The disembodied voice thing just isn't as fun.  I mean it has its purposes sometimes.  Go ask Paul."

Andrew laughed.  "True.  And thank you so much for not blinding me."

"My pleasure," Joshua answered with a grin.  He walked further into the living room and took a seat on the couch, waving Andrew to his favorite chair.  Once the angel was comfortable, he commenced speaking.  "Andrew, I had people leaving their jobs, homes... sometimes their families.  I believed with everything in me that we were walking the path the Father wanted us on.  But it was still daunting.  I had to remind myself that it was their choice to follow me... it was always their choice.  For them the sacrifices... even... even when it came to laying down their lives... were worth it." 

Andrew looked with both tenderness and awe at his visitor.  Nearly 2,000 years later; the angel of death was still amazed whenever Joshua spoke of his life on earth.

"It's worth it for her, too, Andrew.  For JenniAnn," Joshua assured.

"I know.  It's just so... it hurts me to see her like this...  She's not talking but I know exactly what's going on.  She's yearning for something that I can't give her and that she's going to have trouble finding with me around.  JenniAnn's not going to find anyone else.  She's made that very clear.  I know she wants to adopt but that's a little hard to do when she lives in a castle in another world with, oh by the way, an angel of death as her... her..."

"Neighbor?" Joshua offered with a sly smile.  "The girl really ran with 'Love thy neighbor'."

Andrew chuckled, marveling anew at Joshua's ability to lighten his mood.  "She did.  But I'm afraid that's not going to be the first thing an adoption caseworker grasps about our... our situation.  And Max... please don't get me wrong.  I am incredibly grateful that I was assigned to him.  I really am.  That he got to stay here... to become part of all of our lives... Joshua, I don't have the words to express to you how happy that's made me.  And I know it's meant so much to Max.  But, at the same time, I feel like by bringing Max into JenniAnn's life... well, I inadvertently gave her a taste of the life she's always wanted.  She loved mothering him.  And I know she still can.  But it won't be the same now.  No more daily breakfasts together.  No more packing his lunch.  No more laundry.  She can't just run down to Selini at 2 AM because he had a nightmare about being little and getting lost in the city."

"I know," Joshua affirmed.  "Andrew, sometimes people have to start with only a piece of what they want so that when the fullness of their desire is realized, they're ready for it.
  It does hurt to not give JenniAnn exactly what she wants at this very moment.  Just know that there's a reason.  A very good reason."

Eye brow arched, Andrew studied Joshua.  His statement and a certain glimmer in his eyes intrigued the angel. 

Joshua reached over and set his hand on the angel's.  "There's something you need to know."

"About JenniAnn?"

"About JenniAnn and you... and me.  About everyone who has become a part of your life together here.  It's about a prayer... a desire... that didn't get fulfilled in the way a little girl wanted it to.  But it did get fulfilled in the way it needed to at the time."

"Story time?" Andrew asked with an eager grin.

Beaming at his angel, the man nodded and began his tale.  "It was January 1987.  JenniAnn was four years old.  Her parents took her to Mass where the priest delivered a homily about the thirty pieces of silver."  Joshua looked to Andrew with a wry smile and shook his head.  "Great guy although his timing was a little off.  Nothing says Christmas joy like talking about blood money.  The nativity was still up..."

Andrew smiled. 

"So that was the first time JenniAnn heard that part of my story.  She knew the basics before that.  She knew what was in the creed they said every week... although it would be a while yet before she learned that Pilate didn't actually fly airplanes."  Joshua grinned.  "I would have loved to have seen his face if he saw one, though."

The angel of death laughed.  "She mentioned that to me once."  He sobered after a moment.  "That's some heavy stuff for a four year old."

"It was.  JenniAnn didn't know anything about Judas or the silver... until that Sunday.  She was still thinking of it when she and her parents returned home after breakfast.  She went up to her room and she closed the door, got out her piggy bank, and piled up thirty dimes.  She didn’t know any better.  To her a dime was a piece of silver.  She stared at that stack.  Trying to figure out what was so great about it that Judas would have...”  Joshua paused and stared down at his hands for a moment.
Andrew sat his hand on Joshua's forearm and bowed his own head as the man’s voice drifted off.
Joshua pat Andrew's hand and cleared his throat.  “You know how kids are.  Sometimes the way they think...”  A loving smile spread across his face.  “She thought that if Judas got thirty pieces of silver for turning me over to the high priests then maybe she could get me back by returning thirty pieces of silver to her priest.”
A tear slid down Andrew’s cheek.
Joshua stared straight ahead, seeing it all unfold again.  “The following Sunday, after Mass and while her parents were visiting, she left those thirty dimes on the altar.  Just sitting there in a baggie... tied up with a neon pink hair ribbon.  And she waited."

Hearing the hitch in Joshua's voice, Andrew peered into his eyes.  "You couldn't have come to her, Joshua.  I mean... of course you could have.  But free will and faith and..."

"I know.  But I did want her to have something to hold onto... some evidence that our world... our Father's House... was real.  So... I sent someone else to her."

"Eli?" Andrew guessed.  "But... I know they spent some time together when she was a baby but I thought by four..."

Joshua shook his head.  "No.  Not Eli.  Andrew, the day after JenniAnn left the dimes at the church, she flew to Manhattan to spend some time with Catherine."

The angel's stomach lurched as a theory began to coalesce. 

"The two were headed home after some shopping when one of Catherine's police officer friends saw her and waved her over.  She went to where he directed... JenniAnn in tow.  They came to an alley."  Joshua paused.  He held his hand out to Andrew.  "It's time you see this."

Dazed, Andrew took Joshua's hand.

January 16th, 1987

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Catherine sneered through gritted teeth.  "How could you not see her with me?"

A man in uniform stood in front of the petite woman looking as forlorn as a chastened dog.  "I'm sorry, Cathy.  I really am.  With the crowd I... I just couldn't tell.  I didn't see her.  Such a little thing..."

As the grown-ups fought, JenniAnn continued to stare at her brand new book which Catherine had told her to not look away from.  But it was hard to pay attention to the brightly colored pages.  She was confused about why her cousin was being so mean to a policeman and why there was a man sleeping in the middle of the alley.

The little girl's attention was diverted by a series of pinging noises.  Not wanting to disobey Catherine, her eyes remained fixed on the book.  But then there was another ping.  She had to look.  Wide-eyed, JenniAnn saw a flash of silver fall from the sky like a tiny star.  Another soon followed it.  And then... then she saw a brilliant gold.  There was a man... the most beautiful man she'd ever seen.  He looked at the man in the street and crouched down.  When he stood, a shining version of the sleeping man stood, too.  The golden man rested an arm around the other's shoulders.  He smiled and laughed and talked about going home.  The sleeping man smiled back. 

"Cupid..." JenniAnn murmured, raising her hand and reaching out to the shining one.

Catherine turned away from the police officer and gasped.  She abruptly lifted JenniAnn into her arms and tore out of the alley. 

Standing beside Joshua, Andrew stared in wonder at the vision of the past.  His blinked back tears as JenniAnn and Catherine drew farther away.  The girl's hand was flung over the woman's shoulder... reaching towards the retreating form of Andrew's younger self.

Andrew's gaze left the child only when he heard what sounded like a faint, contented sigh coming from above him.  The angel looked up and saw Joshua standing on a nearby roof... holding a bag of change.  He looked from Andrew and his assignment to JenniAnn and Catherine then raised his eyes to the heavens and disappeared. 

The alley drifted away and Andrew and Joshua were again in Serendipity.

"The dimes..." Andrew murmured.  "You threw them to get her to look over and... and see me."

Joshua nodded.  "I was always with JenniAnn just as I'm always with all my children.  But if I had visibly come to her when she was four, she would have been content.  Her searching would have been over.  She would never have made her way back to Dyeland.  She would never have held onto that memory of you.  On March 17th, 2000, you would have gone to the Fields of Gold for respite and been left alone.  There would have been no community to welcome C.J., Yva, Lady Beth, Rose, or any of the others... including others yet to come.  Shelby wouldn't have you to be a second father to her or JenniAnn her second mother.  Willy would not have met his daughter.  Cora wouldn't have met her son.  Nigel would remain intimidated by the modern world.  Josephine would be alone.  Vincent would have never come to a place where he could walk in the sunlight with his wife and child.  Mick and Beth would be estranged and brokenhearted.  Josef would have mourned his beloved Sarah alone.  Owen... he wouldn't have made it, Andrew.  Raquel would have despaired unceasingly over the loss of her child.  She would never have met Nico. 
Violeta... she chose you as her supervisor in large part because of your involvement with Dyeland.  She'd still be in Records, wishing for something more.  Andrew, there would have been no 'Laja' to share your dreams in Afghanistan.  You and Max would not have been rescued.  You'd be there still... with Adam growing wearier by the day searching for you.  Monica and Tess and all the others... they'd still be crying for you.  Andrew, the little girl at the altar didn't get exactly what she wanted.  The dimes weren't used in exactly the way she wanted.  But I did use them to give her what she needed... what you needed... all of you. "

Andrew rubbed at his temples, letting it all sink in.  "But the thirteen years JenniAnn waited..."  He smiled sheepishly.  "I'm sorry.  Now more than ever I should know not to question you."

Joshua smiled.  "I'm used to getting questioned.  And trust me... I questioned the Father plenty.  Those thirteen years of waiting were necessary.  JenniAnn needed them to become the person she needed to be when you both met.  And she deserved time to be a kid.  To not have the responsibilities that come with life here.  And Andrew... well, let's just say you needed some time yourself to realize that maybe... just maybe... you weren't the loner you thought you were."

"Just maybe..." Andrew jested, knowing it was all too true.  "So... JenniAnn wanted you to come back.  But she got me.  And now she wants to be a mom and she got Max.  Does that mean she'll never really..."

Joshua shook his head.  "I'm not saying that JenniAnn will not get a child of her own.  And... I'm also not saying I won't come back."

The angel of death gaped.  Joshua would never bait him like that.  He had to mean...

"Do me a favor, will you?" Joshua asked. 

Struck dumb, Andrew nodded.

"A year from now when you find yourself directing a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, don't listen when your AD tells you that a certain Joshua Davidson is too 'ethnic' and 'burly' for the title role.  Not to pressure you or anything but I really feel like I was born for the part and could do it justice.  I'd even save you on wardrobe costs.  Got my own robe.  Sandals, too.  Very authentic."

Andrew's eyes grew wider as Joshua spoke.

"And when the girls insist on hosting the cast party at Cora's, don't worry about the wine.  I'll bring plenty of it... or, you know, tap water and a little privacy would work nicely, too."  Joshua beamed and let out the laughter he'd been holding in.  "It'll be fun!"

Andrew roused enough to nod.

Still grinning, Joshua playfully punched the angel's shoulder.  "Breathe, Andrew."

The angel obeyed.

"There you go."  Joshua glanced towards the hall then smiled back at Andrew and moved to his feet.  "Now... I need to get going.  Someone else is headed over soon."

Still stunned, Andrew stood and moved into Joshua's hug.

"Happy Easter, Andrew."


Joshua laughed as he continued to embrace his angel. 

"Easter," Andrew finally choked out. 

"Thank you."  Smiling once more, Joshua clapped Andrew on the back and disappeared.

Andrew continued to marvel but was soon interrupted by a quiet knocking on the door leading to his basement.  He crossed through the hall and opened the door to find JenniAnn standing on the other side.  Remembering what Joshua had let him see, the little girl in the alley clamoring for him, Andrew pulled the woman she'd become into a hug.  "Laja, I'm glad you're here.  I'm glad we're both here."

Baffled and slightly concerned, JenniAnn looked up into the angel's face then set her hand on his forehead.  "Me too...  Andrew, you... you look...  You feel fine but you look kinda... I dunno.  Good but... something."

The angel guided his friend into the living room.  "I'm fine, Laja.  I'm really good actually.  But what are you doing up?"

JenniAnn frowned and looked down at her hands.  "I just... I wanted to apologize.  I know I've been a mess lately and you seem to have gotten the front row seat for that... as always.  I'm just... going through some things.  And I know... I know I have to deal with them but... but just a bit ago...  You're going to think I'm crazy."

"Try me.  I doubt I will."

"I couldn't sleep so I got up and went to my desk to write in my journal and when I unlocked and opened the drawer where I keep it... Well, it was there but so were three dimes.  I have no idea how they got there and know even less why this was my reaction but... but suddenly I felt like everything was going to be okay."  JenniAnn smiled and hugged Andrew tightly.  "We're going to be okay.  Better than okay."

"Yes, we are," Andrew agreed, beaming down at his friend.  "Happy Easter, Laja.  A time for new beginnings and... and miracles."

JenniAnn sighed happily.  "That it is.  Happy Easter, Andrew.  Do you wanna maybe watch the sunrise?  Since we're both up and... it seems appropriate."

"It does."  The angel nodded.  "Let's do that.  How about we sit on the hill behind the chapel?  Watch the sun rise over the ocean and the land?"

JenniAnn smiled up at him.  "Perfect."

Andrew grabbed a blanket off the couch then ushered his friend out of the house and up the hill.  Neither realized that as they walked, two others walked with them.

Once Andrew and JenniAnn were settled on the blanket, Joshua moved to lean against a nearby tree.  He smiled at them both before turning to his companion.  He took her hand and together they saw what the future would bring.

February 2014

With her cloak gathered around her, JenniAnn exited an alleyway and ran into yet another vacant lot.  Her gaze tore from right to left.  She didn't know where she was or where she was going.  All she knew was that somehow, from somewhere; Andrew had called to her and she couldn't find him.  She sunk to her knees in defeat and began to sob.

The noise roused a group of homeless men gathered around a fire burning in a trash can.  Joshua, clad in worn jeans and white hooded sweatshirt, stepped away from the others and approached the weeping, fallen figure.

"Miss, why are you crying?" he asked, holding his hands out to JenniAnn.

"My... my friend... he... he's in trouble, sir.  And I... I don't know where he is."  JenniAnn peered up at her helper but, between her brimming eyes and his hood, she could see little of him.  All she knew was that he didn't frighten her.  She took his hands and let him pull her to her feet.

"It's going to be all right," Joshua consoled.  "Follow me.  I know where your friend is."  Keeping her right hand in his, Joshua led JenniAnn to an alley, the same alley where she had first glimpsed Andrew, where he had thrown her dimes and set them on the path to this very moment on this very night.  Just before they turned the final corner, Joshua's grip grew tighter then fell away.  "Go," he directed softly.

JenniAnn gasped when the stranger gently pushed her into the alley and she saw her beloved huddled on the ground.  It took her a moment to realize that Andrew had a baby clasped to his chest.  She ran towards them.

Joshua watched as Andrew and JenniAnn spent their first moments with the girl they would name Annabelle Luna Chandler. 

The images dissipated.  Joshua wished he could have told Andrew of them but he couldn't saddle the angel with keeping so momentous a secret from JenniAnn.  At least there were others he could discuss it with.

"Joshua...  This... this wondrous thing will truly happen?" the woman beside him murmured.

The man nodded.  "Yes and they'll choose the middle name to honor you."

"For... for me?"

"Yes.  Luna means 'moon.'  Just as Badriya does.  Andrew and JenniAnn will choose it as their way of honoring a courageous and compassionate woman." 

Badriya looked tenderly at Andrew.  "I am grateful for this honor," she whispered, knowing the words would come to the angel when they were meant to and that he would share them with his friend.  She smiled when the angel laughed at a comment from JenniAnn.  "He is happy and well.  Thank you for allowing me to see him.  To be here."

Joshua hugged the woman.  "Last winter we spent three days with Andrew in a cave that violent men intended to be his tomb.  We were together in darkness and in death.  But now... now it's Easter morning.  I wanted us to watch it arrive.  Together."

Together the four watched the sun rise in brilliant hues of cerulean, gold, and russet.  After a few moments, Badriya tore her gaze away from the magnificent orb when Joshua stepped a few paces away from her.  She looked on, curious and expectant, as he reached into his pocket then threw two dimes into the air.

"Andrew!" JenniAnn gleefully shrieked as she jumped to her feet.

The angel looked to where the woman was pointing and saw a dove soaring above them with a silver butterfly swooping around it.  He rose, too, and looked on in awe.

JenniAnn hugged her friend and rested her head against his shoulder, still watching the two winged creatures.  "It's perfect," she murmured.

Andrew nodded.  He rested his chin on her hair and silently prayed to the One who had been behind that perfect moment and all the others he had ever experienced.  "Easter has come," he said softly and reverently.



"Amen, amen."
The End

Author's note: Can ya tell I hate killing off characters?  I always find a way to bring them back!  ;-)  Anyhow...

I like to think that some version of this story could have played out with each and every character (any takers? ;-)... and, actually, we might
eventually learn a bit more about Joshua's behind-the-scenes wrangling in others' stories.  Because I don't think Joshua has any special attachment to Andrew or JenniAnn.  Or I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I believe Joshua has a special attachment to Andrew and JenniAnn *and* every single person, angel and human, who exists in their worlds.  In reality, I believe He has a special attachment to each and every one of the over 7 billion humans on this earth now, those who have since left this earth, the countless angels who exist, and every other part of God's creation known and unknown to us.  I believe that God throws dimes, so to speak, into each of our lives.  So keep an eye out for em.

So as I wrote the part where Joshua is throwing the dimes, I had the thought that John was one of those dimes in a metaphorical sense.  He glowed in his role as Andrew and I don't just mean in thanks to the special effects department.  I mean that in his words and in the passion he brought to them, he caught our attention and got us to look for God and His work and His messengers in our own lives.  Now that John lives forever with the Keeper of the Stars, I hope he knows just how many times and in how many ways he was that flash of light and beauty that gave us a glimpse of the greater Light and Beauty to come. 


JABB 380

(Photo Credits: 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.)