I glanced over my shoulder to stare at my people. Their faces were filled with astonishment as their jaws dropped and their eyes widened. I noticed young children pull on their mothers’ clothing and point past me. Tears of joy began to fall from tired eyes as happiness spread over us. As we entered the lost city, a feeling of relief released the burden from my shoulders. I turned my head to join my people staring in awe at the wondrous sight before us. I smiled as I thought of the angel that had led us here. He was right! He was right! We were here! Here at last! Glancing up to the bright sky overhead, I quietly whispered, “Thank you. Thank you so very much.”
Oh, it was a sight to see!
There were hundreds of them filling the secret valleys of Petra. We were welcomed with the weary stares of hundreds of refugees that were crowding the mysterious temples of rock. I noticed that many of them were unpacking camels and looking for a place to stay as they wandered through the crowds. Color filled the dusty canyon as blankets and carpets were laid out. In one area I discovered that barrels had been placed filled with an array of foods. These people had just gotten here. We were not the only ones!
As I observed in wonder, I did not notice the elder that had approached me as I led my people in. He glanced me over with a strange look in his eye before turning to my father with a questioning face. “Who are you people?” I turned to look at my father beside me, then back to the man before me. The man rubbed his long, white beard has he waited for a reply.
“I am Yaron, and this is my son, Namir. He is the one who leads us here.” My father gestured his hand to me with a pleasant grin.
The elder man gave me another questioning glance as he scrutinized me. “What are you here for and where did you come from?” He directed his question towards me this time.
I brought my camel forward a bit before answering, my voice low and my head down. “We have traveled from Ibleen seeking shelter and protection from the Qurks.” I kept my answer short as shyness overcame me.
“Hmm…” groaned the man as he pondered over my words. “And how do you know of this place?”
I stared at my father with a look of worry and nervousness. My father understood my thoughts as I wondered if I should tell this man of my dreams. Would he believe me? My father gave a slight nod, gesturing to the man.
“We have been told to come here, Sir,” I started slowly with doubt in my voice.
“Told? Told by who?” The man looked very curious as he awaited my reply.
“Well…” My uncertainty had not left me as I continued. “God has sent me a messenger in my dreams. He told me to travel to Petra and to bring my people with me.”
The old man’s face looked surprised as he questioned, “In your dreams?”
“This truly is remarkable,” smiled the man.
The elder’s statement confused me as his countenance quickly changed, displaying joy rather than disbelief. “Sir?”
“You are not the first to come,” began the man as he turned and spread his robed arm with a sweeping motion. “Others have come before you, each with one who has claimed to see an angel in their dreams. An angel sent by God, Himself. They have all traveled great distances to reach this barren place.”
My face lit up with cheerfulness as I heard the man’s news. It was not just a dream. It was real! It truly was a message from God! I had heard and I had followed His word. I had done the right thing.
“I too have seen this angel, and have brought my people. We were the first to arrive and have set up a few quarters with some guidelines to follow. We ask that you follow our simple rules, as we are all in this together now. If we don’t work together…” The man paused as he stared down to the dirt beneath his sandals. “Please place any food that you may have in the barrels and caskets over there, and find an area to sleep somewhere in that area.” He pointed to the according areas as he explained the system to us. “We have men who guard the food and give equal shares to everyone each morning and night. Unfortunately, we only have what we have brought with us. Our rations will be small and we will have to make them last.”
I nodded in approval to show my understanding.
“Welcome to Petra, good people of Ibleen!” exclaimed the man as he once again swept his arms out and backed out of our path. I gave my camel a slight kick and led my people forward. I saw my father give the man a nod before starting his animal after mine.
When dusk had fallen and the sky was bright with stars, I found my father sitting before a fire with others from our village. I took my place beside him and warmed my hands before the golden blaze. There was a moment of silence before I spoke. “Papa, do you think that we will be safe here?”
My father glanced at me with his tired eyes. “Yes,” he started. “Yes, I do believe that we will be safe here. God has sent us here and He would not have done so if it were not safe.” He paused as he gave a wispy sigh. “You have led us well, Namir. You have led us well.” I could not help but smile with my father’s remark as I stared into the flickers of light with my pride buried within me.
Suddenly, there was a bright luminescence overhead. I shielded my eyes from the brightness and glanced upwards. To my surprise, I found the source of light to be from the roof of the temple before me. I noticed refugees gather around the temple as I joined them in amazement. All around me, people held their hands above their eyebrows as they craned their necks to look up. “What, what is that?” my father asked me.
“I am not sure, Papa. You don’t think it is a Qurk do you?” I bore a worried look upon my face.
In the bright glow, I could see my father squint and reply, “No, this is something else I believe.” I heard murmurs and whispers around me as people shed their confusion.
Then the gleam began to fade and die down. I returned my arm to my side as I watched with great curiosity. As the radiance decreased, a figure began to form. A human shape appeared, bathed in robes of white. Large feathered wings branched out from behind the majestic being as it stood upon the roof of the temple. He smiled down upon us as he held his arms out.
A small luster radiated from him as the people around me stared in awe. Silence covered the valley, as the refugees were speechless under the angel’s beauty and appearance. I discovered looks of joy and tears within the eyes of my people as they witnessed what I had seen in my dreams many times before. As I glanced over my father I saw the same look of bewilderment upon his features. I felt lifted up within me as I saw the creature stand atop the natural structure. I felt proud as my people drew closer with smiles emerging from their faces and I felt the sense of hope that they had so deeply longed for.
“You have come,” spoke the angel with a loud, yet soft voice. The beautiful sound wrapped around me and my people before it echoed through the canyons of rock. His voice was great in volume for everyone to hear and understand. All eyes were set on him as he gave his speech. “You have come as I have led you here. This is good, for you will now be safe. You will be safe here in Petra. You will be safe in these rocky walls. You no longer have to feel the dread of fear or nervousness. You are all here now. You are safe. You are being protected. We shall make it through this war together. There will be no more losses here. We will rise together, and protect each other. We will no longer live in separation. We are grouped together here. Grouped here…in Petra, in the safe protection of this ancient city. And here we shall stay.” His soft words died out with the gentleness of a spring breeze. I felt renewed as I listened to him, and I saw the same look amongst my peers.
The angel then withdrew his arms and closed his eyes. He began to float down from the temple heights as the group of people cleared below. He landed within the center of our large group of people and opened his eyes. “There is no longer a reason to fear, as there is no reason for me to hide.” I grew confused with the angel’s last remark.
Suddenly, there were gasps and shrieks of terror around me. The strength within me died along with my faith as I witnessed a transformation before me. The angel illuminated a bright aurora as its shape began to change. I watched in wonder as the light faded and revealed our worst fears.
My angel was not sent by God. My angel was a Qurk.