Maor drifted through the Hall of Life, keenly aware that a guest had arrived. Visitors to The Library were rare and he took great pleasure in serving each one. A sea of books slid silently into the distance as he made his way down the central aisle until he found his destination.
His visitor stood statuesque, eyes locked onto a single book. Dark brown hair hung loosely over his broad shoulders. He appeared to be young, though it was always difficult to tell. The muscles of a warrior tried to hide themselves beneath the robes that hung down to the floor with about as much success as a mountain hiding beneath a curtain. Maor greeted the angel with a quietness that had nothing to do with their surroundings.
“Welcome to The Library. My name is Maor. How may I serve you?”
The angel reluctantly tore his gaze away from what he had obviously come to see and measured the librarian with a glance.
“My name is Lavi. I… I came to see a book.”
Maor studied his guest in return. He saw uncertainty in his eyes that betrayed a weakness his massive physique would never reveal.
“Well then you have come to the right place. I would make a recommendation, but it appears that you know exactly which book you seek.”
Lavi’s eyes returned to the shelf again.
The librarian matched Lavi’s silence for what could have been a second or an eon if time existed in The Library.
“Which one is yours?”
Lavi’s great hand rose and his extended finger floated a shadow’s thickness away from a leather-bound volume in the middle of the shelf. A soft smile touched Maor’s eyes as he replied with a simple, “Ah…”
Silence returned once more and Lavi let his hand fall back to his side. Maor waited patiently for his guest to start the conversation that he knew would lead to the purpose of his visit.
“Have you read it?”
Maor’s gentle chuckle floated down the rows.
“I have read them all.”
Lavi turned to look at Maor once more. The smile that still played across the librarian’s ancient lips seemed to soften the warrior’s countenance. It was not the first time an angel had come to read that which has not yet become. For all his strength, Maor knew that his guest still feared asking what he truly wanted to know so he asked it for him.
“You want to know if you can read ahead.”
Lavi’s eyes dropped in shame as low as a warrior’s could, which would have been imperceptible to human eyes. The librarian answered his own question.
“It is possible. But it is not permissible.”
Lavi’s hands became tightly held fists. The shelves shook with his next question.
Maor had heard this question asked before and answered with a patience that only comes with great wisdom.
“For the same reason that the one you protect is not given the same knowledge.”
Fire flared in Lavi’s eyes as he towered over the librarian, but Maor was untouched by fear as he continued.
“Knowledge is a dangerous thing. It can extinguish the flame of faith. And it is faith that draws us closer to the source of all love and peace.”
Lavi fought the desire to punch something that vibrated through every fiber of his being.
“I don’t understand! I have watched over His children for centuries and it seems as though the good suffer far greater than the wicked.”
His eyes returned to the book. The name of the one given to his charge was printed across the spine in golden script.
“I can’t take it anymore. I want to know how this will end. Each tear she cries wounds me. It is my job to protect her!”
Maor waited for the giant angel to calm down before replying.
“Suffering is a precious gift that is not given without great care.”
“Easy words for someone who has never suffered.” Lavi spat back.
“You are correct. But it does not change their truth.”
“Teach me then great teacher.”
“Take my words and compare them to what you have seen in the lives you have guarded.”
Lavi’s shoulders relaxed as he calmed himself and nodded in agreement.
“Suffering is a poison. Given in the right amount it can kill unbelief. Much like the infections that attack their bodies. What is good and strong in them rises up to kill that which does not belong. When humans suffer it is an invitation to the faith that is deep within them to rise up and fight. If they do not cease fighting, whether disease or suffering, when it is over they will be stronger than they were before. They become capable of handling greater suffering.”
Lavi spoke calmly, but the tone of his voice betrayed his frustration.
“They become capable of handling more? So their prize is that they get to suffer worse things?”
The librarian’s jovial reaction contrasted sharply with the questions.
“Quite the opposite! The stronger their faith becomes the less they suffer. The situations in their lives that caused depression, worry, or fear have no more power over their stronger faith. Those who have never faced a great battle of faith, lose those small battles every day. For those, the sum of their suffering is actually far greater.”
The light of understanding slowly replaced the flames that had burned in the warrior’s eyes.
“But not all those that suffer win that battle. I have seen it many times with my own eyes.”
“That is true. Not every book housed on the shelves ends happily.”
Lavi reached out and with great care slid the book into his hands.
“And this one?”
“That is where your test is similar to the one you protect. Do you have faith in the Author of these lives? Will you fight as if the victory has already been written?”
The great angel’s hand suddenly looked small as he traced the name inscribed on the cover. Lavi placed the book into the hands of the librarian. It was the only answer he would give, but it was enough.
Copyright © 2012 Adam Drake