Where God dwells there are many angels. There are great angels like Gabriel and the archangel Michael, as well as angels-in-training and angels who love to take naps.

"Angels take naps?" you ask.

Of course! Even angels take naps. After all, the top of clouds is soft, cozy, and so warm near God. It's easy to forget one's work and just doze off.

Today's story is about the angel who loves naps.

First, do you know what an angel's work is?

An angel's work is to deliver God's words to people and to protect children from Satan, the evil one, also named Lucifer. But the angel who loves naps is an angel-in-training, and he enjoys playing tricks as he did the other day.

He saw a boy eating ice cream, and when the boy looked away the angel snatched a big bite, giggling when he saw the boy's puzzled look.

The angel Gabriel, who had been watching all along, said to the angel who loves naps, "Starting today, I appoint you to be the guardian angel of Thomas, the boy whose ice cream you ate. You are to watch over him!"

Thomas is in fifth grade. When he was in kindergarten his father died in a car accident, so his mother works until late at night to provide for Thomas.

"Mom," Thomas said, "I made a sandwich and heated up some chicken soup for you."

"Thank you, Thomas," his mother replied gratefully.

Every day Thomas prepares dinner and tidies the house for his mother, who always comes home tired from work. Thomas is happy to know his good deeds make his mother glad. But sometimes Thomas feels lonely.

The angel who loves naps came to Thomas and said, "Thomas, cheer up. From now on I will help you." But Thomas couldn't hear the angel's voice. Besides, the angel was in training.

How could the angel get through to Thomas?

"It's no use; I can't do it," the angel sighed. Tired, he drifted away from Thomas to take a nap on the clouds as usual.

Then came Lucifer, the infa mous leader of the evil world. He wanders here and there, searching for those who will be come his servants. When Lucifer saw Thomas, he said to himself, "When this boy grows up and serves God, my demons and I will suffer, so I'd better make this boy my servant now while | still can."

Lucifer stoked evil flames and blew his dark breath onto Thomas. At that moment a chill ran through the boy's heart and turned it cold with hatred and complaints. After that, whenever Thomas saw a boy or girl from a happy home, he was overcome with the urge to bully him or her.

How long had the angel been sleeping?

When the angel awoke from his nap, he was stunned to see that Thomas had turned into a bad boy. The angel turned back time and exclaimed, "Oh no! A terrible thing has happened! While I was taking a nap Lucifer came and blew his dark breath onto Thomas!"

If captured by Lucifer, even upright adults will have an evil flame burning in their hearts, which will lead them to steal and even murder.

Still the angel loved Thomas and said, "No matter how much others hate Thomas, his gentle heart still lives."

The angel tried to take Thomas from Lucifer, but the angel was no match for the enemy.

Lucifer uttered, "What can that angel-in-training do? The boy is turning out just as I want." So Lucifer was completely at ease.

Thomas' heart was growing more evil. He had joined bad friends who liked to stay out late into the nights and steal. Thomas had come home late one night, and once again his mother sat him down and said, "Thomas—" But before she could finish speaking, she suddenly broke into tears, for it was no longer her dear son's face looking back at her.

Thomas screamed at his mother, "Enough! Don't lecture me anymore. I hate you, Mom!"

What had happened to gentle Thomas?

Heartbroken and torn with sad ness, Thomas' mother prayed, "Dear God, please save Thomas. Please rescue him from Satan and make him a child of light again."

The voice of his mother praying through the night reached Thomas. He covered his ears so he couldn't hear her; yet somehow he remembered the times he used to pray with his mother.

His mother's prayers were an un expected counterattack against Lucifer, and Lucifer became enraged. "That mother's prayer is interfering! Thomas' heart was mine, but now he's wavering to ward God."

Then Lucifer summoned his demons and said, "Let's do something about that mother!"

He blew dark breath into Thomas' mother, causing her to become seriously ill. She was near death.

Just at that moment the angel who loves naps swooped down and defiantly stood before Lucifer. He was determined to protect the boy's mother for Thomas' sake. He was ready to give his life to save her and Thomas.

The battle between the angel and Lucifer caused lightning flashes and thunderous roars that shook heaven and earth. The fierce battle knew no limits.

After the long, long battle, the angel had exhausted his strength. In an instant Lucifer thrust his sharp sword through the angel's chest, and the angel fell as he shouted, "Thomas!"

Thomas looked around and exclaimed, "What? Someone's calling my name!"

The angel's voice had flashed like a spark inside Thomas' heart, and the dark, cold fog smothering his heart instantly cleared away. Thomas was filled with light and warmth again.

"Mom," he cried, "I'm sorry! It was my fault!" Then Thomas prayed with all his might as tears streamed down his face. "God, my mom is about to die because of me. I don't care what happens to me; just please save my mom!"

Amid a great shining light, the angel Gabriel appeared and as sured Thomas, "Your prayer has reached God."

As Gabriel's voice reverberated through heaven and earth, Lucifer fell upside down and deep into the earth.

In the heavens Gabriel carried in his arms the scarred and bat tered angel who loves naps, and they knelt before God.

God said to the angel who loves naps, "Well done! You have hereby become a full fledged angel. From now on you will work under Gabriel's command."

On earth Thomas and his mother, who was now healed, knelt and prayed thankfully to God.

"What happened to the angel who loves naps?" you ask.

Not to worry. Look at that fluffy cloud. Do you see an angel taking a nap? Even now, that angel loves naps.

 

The end.

Story by Shin Nagahara
Illustrations by Noriko Baba