Seventeen Years Ago
Their child was going to be amazing, Geoffrey was sure.  He had a double dose of angel blood, after all.  How rare was that?  Most Celestia Divisa were only half-blooded, with one parent a Celestia Divisa and the other one human, but it was much more rare for two Celestia to marry and procreate.

Geoffrey toyed with names in his head, eager to christen his newborn son.  Caleb Jeffrey had a nice ring to it and represented both of his parents’ gifts — faith and peace, the gifts their son would most likely inherit.  A double name had been given to distinguish the last double-blooded Celestia Divisa, Amora Sophia Santino, born more than 20 years ago.  Geoffrey fantasized about the prestige his son would bring to their family; he wanted to make sure everyone knew how special his son was.

“What are you daydreaming about in here, Geoffrey?” Faith Arella asked as she entered the nursery where her husband was rocking their son, his eyes glazed over as he lived out a fantasy in his mind.  A big, strapping man dressed in an intimidating policeman’s uniform with handcuffs, a gun, and a billy club dangling from his belt, sitting in a delicate rocking chair in a powder blue nursery with a tiny bundle over his shoulder — the sight was precious to her.  Faith gulped and covered her smile with her hand as her heart swelled into her throat.  She loved that Geoffrey was excited about being a father.  Even simple things like rocking the baby so she could go take a shower meant the world to her.

“Just thinking about names for our little miracle,” he replied, lifting the baby from his shoulder to cradle it in his arms.  “What do you think about Caleb Jeffrey?  We could call him CJ.”

“I think it’s perfect, honey, just like him,” Faith cooed, straddling her husband’s knee and nuzzling her son’s downy head.

With shaking hands, Faith spread another coat of mascara on her lashes, fluffed her blonde hair, and contemplated touching up her already-glossy, red lips.  Today was their son’s naming ceremony, and she and her husband would be presenting him before the entire host of local Celestia Divisa.  The quarterly ceremony celebrated all the important milestones in a Celestia Divisa’s life, and participating in one was always a grand occasion.  Today, Dominion would announce their son’s name, and his angelic gift.

“You look perfect, darling,” Geoffrey said, taking the makeup from his wife’s hand and handing her the baby.

Faith carried her baby to the car and buckled him in safely, double checking all the straps.  Satisfied that her newborn would survive the 15-minute drive to the church, Faith climbed in the front seat and squeezed her husband’s hand nervously.  He smiled reassuringly and squeezed back.  He’s so handsome, she thought, admiring how impressive he looked in his starched, blue dress uniform.  She felt frumpy and underdressed by comparison.

Faith tugged at her stretchy black skirt and top, grateful that at least the dark color would help to camouflage her saggy, postpartum belly.  It would do nothing to hide spit up, though, so she kept her fingers crossed that the baby refrained from vomiting on her while they were at the ceremony.

The church parking lot was already full when the Arellas arrived, and Faith’s nervousness grew with each lap her husband made around the parking lot, looking for a spot.  The time she had wasted trying to find something decent to wear had made them late.  When Geoffrey finally pulled into a parking space, he shut off the car and turned towards his wife with a gentle smile.

“Calm down, sweetheart.  Everything’s going to be just fine,” he soothed, waves of peace radiating from his body and instantly quieting her frantic nerves.

“CJ is going to be the star of the show today and every mother in there will wish she was you, darling.”

She knew he meant well, but thinking about being the object of everyone’s attention was not helping her feel any less stressed.  At least his gift was working, even if his words weren’t.  She could feel the soothing sensation of peace washing over her.  After a few deep breaths, Faith reminded herself that this ceremony was for CJ’s sake, not hers, and she had faith that God had a very special plan for her son.  A plan that hopefully would not include the embarrassment of his mother.

As the family made their way into the church, dozens of Celestia crowded around them, eager to get a glimpse of the awaited double Divisa.  Faith was sort of grateful that they had arrived at the last minute; she didn’t think she could handle this rush of people for more than a few minutes.  After the ceremony, the attention would be divided amongst all the other people whose special occasion had been celebrated, and the spotlight wouldn’t be focused exclusively on her.

Geoffrey browsed through the program, taking note of the most esteemed participants.  He liked to maintain relationships with the most influential families in the community, so he made sure to congratulate all of them personally when they were presented in a meeting.  He was pleased to see that his family’s name was one of the most prestigious on the list, meaning he could enjoy his moment in the spotlight instead of hustling around to pay tribute to others.

When Dominion Connan took the stand, Geoffrey’s smile widened in anticipation of his moment of glory.  Would his son be graced with a double gifting like the last dual Divisa?  Or perhaps his gift would be something even greater, a special endowment only his unique heritage could oblige?  Whatever it was, Geoffrey knew his reputation and influence could only be enhanced by his son’s presentation.

“I see we have been blessed with a very special addition to our community this quarter.”  Dominion Connan glanced at the Arella family with a twinkle in his eye.  “Will Faith and Geoffrey Arella please rise and present your newborn.”

Geoffrey glanced at his wife with an eager smile in contrast to her look of fear and took her hand as they climbed the stairs on the side of the stage.  A stream of peace coursed from his hand through her body, dulling her anxiety.  He knew his wife hated to be the center of attention, but Geoffrey lapped it up like a kitten with a bowl of warm milk.  He wished he could transfer his joy to his nervous wife, but that was not within his power.

“Geoffrey Arella, esteemed chief of police for the city of Indianapolis,” Dominion announced, bowing slightly to Geoffrey then turning to his wife, “Faith Arella, beloved wife and mother — today we are honored by the gift of your son, the first Celestia Divisa born of two others in many years.”

Applause erupted from the congregation, and Geoffrey beamed at the adulation.  Faith managed a weak smile and positioned her son in front of her body.

“The uniqueness of your son’s heritage will no doubt be rivaled only by the special gift which the heavenly Father will bestow upon him,” Dominion Connan declared, taking the child from his mother’s arms and holding him up for the crowd to see.

Geoffrey’s smile faltered at the use of the future tense.  The gift the Father will bestow upon him?

“It has been my responsibility these 82 years to verify and announce the heavenly gifting of every Celestia Divisa born within this region, including you two, Faith and Geoffrey.”  Dominion winked, cradling the baby.  “Not one of you has eluded my powers of discernment.  That is why I can confidently announce to you today that this child has not yet received his special gift.”

A gasp rose up from the congregation, and the floors vibrated with the collective dropping of jaws.  Geoffrey turned to his wife in horror, his eyes saucers of confusion and humiliation.

“Fear not, dear parents and beloved neighbors, for in all my years as Dominion I have yet to see a child escape the blessing of the Father.  As St. Peter’s second epistle reminds us, the Lord is not slack concerning his promise.  I can assure you that the child will indeed be endowed with a most special gifting when the time has come, and we must practice faithful patience as we wait for its revealing.”

“But what will we name him?” Geoffrey whispered beneath the confused rumblings of the agitated crowd.  They couldn’t very well name him Caleb Jeffrey if he didn’t have the gifts of faith and peace.

“Zephaniah,” Faith replied no louder, yet her firm, quiet voice managed to silence the congregation.

Dominion Connan smiled widely as he turned towards Faith and placed the baby back in her arms.

“As the Lord has hidden, the Lord will reveal,” he announced in agreement.  “As the Lord has treasured, the Lord will protect.”

Geoffrey stared in confusion at Connan and his wife as they smiled in understanding.

“Your gift of faith allows you to accept this great mystery, dear mother.  It is my sincere desire that every one of you will follow her lead.  Blessings on you, Zephaniah Arella, and blessed be the community that is graced with your presence.  May the Lord God shine his grace upon you all the days of your life.”

With Connan’s last words the family was dismissed, and Geoffrey stumbled off the stage in a fog of disbelief, his fantasies shattered by the unforeseeable proclamation.