Notre Dame de Paris

By Stephen McIlvenna


Two Cherubim of the Sword stood guard duty inside the main hall of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. They were dressed in the uniforms of caretakers, which was appropriate enough. Naphtali, the younger of the two, moved his weight from one foot to the other and muttered something under his breath.

His older companion, Ezra, looked across. Naphtali had only recently been given the honour of this duty. The younger Cherub was proud of his assignent and keen to serve the Sword, but he still had many things to learn.

"Is there a problem, Naphtali?"

"No. It's nothing. Not really. I'm just disgusted by the lack of respect shown by some of these humans. They visit our greatest Tether and treat it like something we put here for their amusement."

Ezra nodded and hid a smile. He had heard this complaint from Naphtali before. Like he said, the young angel had a lot to learn.

"Ezra, look! Beside the Baptismal painting - do you see who I see?"

Ezra looked for the object of Naphtali's excitement, "Oh, yes. Yes, he comes here quite often."

"Should we tell somebody? What could he want here?"

The older Cherub hid another smile. Naphtali had to learn sometime and he might never have a better teacher, "Why don't you go and ask him? I'll keep your post."

Naphtali walked across to the untidy looking figure leaning over a rail barrier and gazing at the painting hanging beside one of the many stained-glass windows. The Cherub checked that no other people were within earshot then drew himself to attention.

"Archangel Eli. I am Naphtali, Cherub Servitor of the Sword. How may I serve you."

Eli glanced round, "Relax before you sprain something, soldier. I'm just here to do some sight-seeing."

"May I send word of your arrival ...," the Cherub stopped as his brain caught up with his automated sense of duty. "Sight-seeing?" he asked in shock, "Like these tourists?!"

The Archangel straightened up and turned to the Cherub with a grin, "What's the matter? Don't you like people admiring the place you're attuned to? Jealousy is a very Djinn-thing, you know."

Naphtali's jaw dropped at the thought, "Sir, I have never once experienced Discord with my role in the Symphony! It's just these crowds. They are in Heaven's greatest Tether on earth. Angels and Archangels meet to plan the war against Hell and ways to spread Heaven's protecting influence among men, and not one of these people realise it. They walk around with their cameras and camcorders, stuffing their faces in the square outside and feeding the pigeons. It shows no reverence at all for the work we do for their benefit."

Eli nodded, "I do tend to agree with you about the cameras. There are enough pictures of this place in books and television. You would think when somebody is standing two feet away from the real thing they would use the eyes God gave them. As for feeding pigeons, you'll have to take that up with Yves. He attracts most of them - says it gives him somewhere to keep his Kyriotates."

He quirked an eyebrow at the Cherub, "I suppose you feel the place would be better off without these people running around?"

"Well, yes, I do. I have no problem with them holding religous services and I concede that they are entitled to use the grounds outside. But I am sure our own forces could be much better organised if we had the place to ourselves and those who already believe in our cause."

The Archangel gestured around with one hand, "So what do you think it is about this place that makes it so special for Heaven anyway? We have many other Tethers. When it comes down to it surely this is just a big church and there are plenty of those in the world."

"But there is such a presence of God here," Naphtali insisted, "His holiness and glory can be felt by those who look for it."

"God is everywhere. Those who look can be close to him anywhere they want."

"Well, yes, but few other places hold such great, historic paintings, statues and architecture. They give mankind a glimpse of the wonder of Heaven and the glories God offers them."

Eli gave a half-smile, "You're getting close, but most would say the Musee d'Orsay and Le Louvre have better exhibits if you're looking for artistic displays. Mind you, I've always felt that when you've seen one lady with a mysterious smile, you've seen them all."

Naphtali gave up in exasperation, "All right then, what is so special about Notre Dame? What is it that brings you here?"

Eli turned back to the painting and answered quietly, "That the artists made these things for God's glory. That they took their skills and talents and dedicated them to Him. That, from time to time, when one of your tourists see this place they don't think how great the artists were, but how great their love of God must have been to produce such works and how great God must be to inspire such love."

"I can't speak for the other Archangels, but for me this is a place of human creation for the benefit of Heaven - not the other way around. Guard it carefully, Cherub, and pray that many more visitors will come, that even one more may see the true attraction of the place."


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