14 December, 2014

Gabriel

The night air was cold upon her face, even without the wind. She wept. Her heart, was broken in two and drowning in loneliness. The large, open space that is the desert surrounded her and made her feel even more alone than she already felt. "How could she do this to me?" she wailed,
How could HE 
Her inner rage boiling, the fury launching from her lips,
"THIS IS ALSO HIS SON!"
Her tears, like icicles, frozen forever on her cheeks, a harsh reminder of the icy heart that betrayed her and driven her away from a place of comfort...her home. Her son, now fast asleep, wrapped himself tighter in her cloak, as the wind blew a little harder, a little colder. Yes, it was going to be cold in the desert tonight and Egypt was still a few more nights away.

"God of Abraham, I have no reason to trust you but if you are everything Abraham says that you are, please, do not abandon me!" she screamed into the black night.

The wind suddenly grew stronger and the sand, suddenly airborne, blasted angrily against all in his path. A whirling, dervish of sand surrounded her and her child.

"What is this, what is happening?" she questioned, with great concern.

"Hagar, your faith in the living God has been heard and God has sent me to you, to help you, in your time of need."

Suddenly, out of thin air, the handsome young man, with hair of gold and eyes of blue, stood facing her and said, "Peace to you, Hagar and to your son, Ishmael."

The angel Gabriel figures prominently in three world religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. I find this fact amazing, as many people, all over the world, share common ground through Gabriel. גַּבְרִיאֵל, Gavri'el, Gabrielus, جبريل Jibril, Jibrail, جبرائيل , Gabriel, in all the various names which people know him, means "strength of God". In all three religions, Gabriel is a messenger, between God and His creation.

In the time of Babylon, Daniel was visited by the Angel Gabriel, who helped Daniel to interpret visions that he experienced and did not understand. Gabriel's revelations bring wisdom and understanding, where there was none and bears witness to a God who loves His people and cares for each of us so much, that He would send an angel to Daniel, to counsel him.
"I am Gabriel, who stands before God.."-Luke 1:19
In Christianity, Gabriel is the angel who informs Zacharias of his wife's forthcoming pregnancy. Elizabeth, despite an advanced age, gives birth to a son, John, whom we know as John the Baptist. However, Gabriel's greatest message was to Mary, when He visited her to deliver the news that she would give birth to Jesus. Subsequently, Gabriel visits Joseph in a dream, to warn him of Herod's jealousy and his mission to slaughter all the newly-born male babies in Bethlehem. While the New Testament does not tell us that Gabriel was in fact, the Angel who delivered the news to Mary Magdalene of the resurrection, most Christians believe that Gabriel was the angel who said "Why do you search for the living among the dead?" Most Christians also believe that Gabriel was the angel who ministered to Jesus, as He agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His passion.

In Islam, Gabriel is also an angelic messenger, delivering messages from God to His beloved people. During the last days of Ramadan, on Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Great Value), Muslims remember the night that Gabriel descended to earth, to reveal the Qur'an to the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). Muslims also believe that Gabriel accompanied the prophet on his ascension into the heavens.

One fact is amazingly clear, whether you read the Qur'an, the Bible or the Tanakh; Gabriel has been trying to get our attention. He wants to help us get closer to God, in the hope that we may form a deep and loving relationship with Him. Gabriel reminds us that all good things come from God and in times of great desperation, when we need God the most, his message is full of great joy and hope.

God loves you.  God wants you.

For those of us who love the Asil Arabian Horse, we are connected through the much-loved legends that have passed from one generation to the next, concerning the origin of the horse. Gabriel figures prominently in many of these stories.
"My blessed companion and friend of my creator, thou wilt never fail me."-from The Classic Arabian Horse written by Judith Forbis
"Who are you and where have you come from?" she asks, as she backs up towards her sleeping child, positioning her body between the stranger and Ishmael, offering her child protection.

Although she does not recognize him, she asks

"Has Abraham sent you for me?"

with a little hope still in her voice.

"I mean you no harm Hagar, the Lord God has found great favor in you. For you have remained steadfast in the faith of Abraham. You have not strayed from God and worshipped the pagan gods," he explained, "God is my strength and has sent me here, to this desert, to you, to bless you."
And as his words drifted into the growing wind, Hagar felt the heat rise and the sand started to swirl around her and from nowhere, the sound of a beating heart, amplified, pulsing in her eardrums, faster and faster.

"What is happening?"

And then, the most beautiful creature Hagar had ever seen, materialized out of the wind and stood before her, looking at her. She was extraordinary in her beauty and in her spirit, for she imparted an immediate feeling of peace upon Hagar, the likes of which she had never known. The creature was smaller than the camel but larger than the donkey, with eyes set wide apart in her broad head.  In the middle of her head was a white mark, shaped like a star, as if the star had fallen out of the night sky, landing upon her bulging forehead. She reached her nose out to Hagar, stretching her long neck and soon, her warm breath was dancing upon Hagar's skin. Her broad chest flowed into powerful shoulders, conveying the fact that this creature could fly like the wind, across the sand and away from danger. Her tail, like a flag, was blown from side to side, as if made from the finest silk.

"What is..?" her question, unfinished, drifted in the night air.

"She is a gift, from God. Her name is Kuhaylah and her children will inspire and encourage people for many years to come, long after you are gone from this place, for God has found favor with you Hagar and with your prayers...."
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies"-from the song, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, written by Charles Wesley
EnJOY,
Ralph

PS The painting by Mary Haggard was the poster for the 2002 Scottsdale All Arabian show. The scond painting of the chestnut Arabian Horse is by Fred Verbeek

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