Ali and the Angel

Ali and the Angel

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

Ali and the Angel

A few days after Thanksgiving, the pastor of a small church in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was shopping at a large mall north of Milwaukee. He wandered into a temporary store set up just for the holiday season, which contained one-of-a-kind statues and sculptures purchased from museums all over the world. Most of the stunning brass and bronze statues were life size. Some were over eight feet tall.

As Pastor Ron wandered down the first aisle, he looked at the prices, thousands of dollars for each. He wondered who could possibly afford to put one of those statues in their home. Certainly no one from my small church, he mused. I doubt if there’s a house in South Milwaukee big enough to do justice to one of these enormous statues.

Pastor Ron wandered up another aisle when he saw it. The angel. An incredible angel... approximately four feet tall, cast bronze, with a six-foot wing span and the most beautiful face the pastor had ever seen.

Thinking about the memorial/hospitality room he was dreaming about for the back of his church, he stepped forward and turned over the price tag. He gasped when he saw $7,000 in neat black letters.

“Whew! Too steep for our church,” Pastor Ron muttered. His church only had about eight hundred families, mostly blue-collar workers struggling from paycheck to paycheck.

Just then a tall, striking gentleman who seemed to be of Middle Eastern descent walked up.

“May I be of help? The angel, she is beautiful, yes?”

“Oh, without a doubt. The most beautiful angel I’ve ever seen,” Pastor Ron said wistfully. “But unfortunately I need to look at something much smaller.”

He followed the dark-haired man to the rear of the store where he pointed out another angel, this one only eighteen inches tall.

“No, this is too small,” Pastor Ron said. Even the little angel was beyond the price range for his church.

“We want to build a memorial,” Pastor Ron began, “but we don’t have that much money to....” He stopped talking when he realized the salesman was no doubt of a different faith and perhaps wouldn’t understand.

Pastor Ron followed the man up the aisle toward the front of the store where the first angel, the most beautiful one, stood with arms outstretched. Once more Pastor Ron paused to admire the delicate beauty of the sculpture and the peace radiating from the angel’s face. He took a deep breath and started to thank the man for his time, when the salesman spoke.

“Tell me again. What is it you need the angel for?”

“Our church. I’m the pastor of a small church in South Milwaukee. We want to build a memorial, a sort of hospitality room in the back of church. A place where we can remember all of our deceased members. A place to celebrate the living as well. We’ll have a bulletin board for photos of weddings, baptisms, confirmations... and I, well, I’ve been hoping to find an angel to preside over this place of prayer and hospitality.”

“I see,” said the tall, serious man as he pulled a calculator out of his pocket. “My name is Ali,” he said. “I am the owner and manager. We travel all over the country with these exquisite museum pieces.”

Ali punched numbers on his calculator. Then he cleared the total and started over.

Pastor Ron felt his shoulders sink as he thought to himself, “Even if he gives us a discount of twenty, thirty or even fifty percent, we still can’t afford this angel. What am I doing here in a place where original, one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork are on display?” He began to feel uncomfortable, wishing he’d passed by this store during his visit to the mall.

Finally, Ali finished fiddling with the calculator. “How does this look?” he said as he held the calculator in front of Pastor Ron’s eyes. “I will even deliver the angel to your church for you personally,” he said.

Pastor Ron’s head jerked back a bit when he saw the figure. “Sixteen hundred dollars? Are you sure? You do mean the large angel, this one, the one priced at seven thousand dollars?”

“Yes. The artist signed this cast bronze angel. It is a museum masterpiece.”

“But why?” It was all Pastor Ron could mutter.

Ali spoke softly. “Because I, too, am a spiritual man. I am a Muslim. I would rather see this angel in a house of prayer than in someone’s home. All I ask is that on the day you put this angel in your church you ask your people to pray for Ali.”

On the day Ali and his father delivered the angel to the little church in South Milwaukee, Pastor Ron began to understand a little more about angels. He learned that not all angels are gilded with copper and bronze. Not all of them have wings and small delicate faces. Some of them are tall with dark hair and black mustaches. One of them is a Muslim named Ali.

~Patricia Lorenz

Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul

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