My husband and I recently spent ten days in mid-December visiting friends in North Carolina. On our journey, I found glimpses of Christmas, and I want to share these three with you:
The first thing I noticed was the rain, a slow drizzle falling from a gloomy sky. Sitting near the window at the boarding gate in Atlanta’s airport, I stared out at our waiting plane. Then I noticed him…a soldier in Army dress, standing in the rain near the plane’s loading door. And I knew.
A few moments later, the pilot walked up and spoke briefly to the solider. Then I saw it. A flag draped coffin was slowly and carefully brought forward while the soldier snapped to attention and saluted, as did the pilot. And it rained on them and the coffin, which slowly disappeared into the bowels of the plane.
Once everyone had boarded, the pilot came out to address the passengers. He explained that our plane was privlieged to bring a fallen hero home to his family in Raleigh, NC. Then he introduced the young soldier I had seen, explaining that he was the “best buddy” of the deceased. Finally, he explained that we would have to wait on the plane while the escort soldier exited and went down to receive the casket.
The passengers broke into applause. There were no complaints as we quietly waited until we were free to deplane. As we walked toward baggage claim, I noticed people gathering at the windows overlooking our plane. We had been told there would be a brief military service there, and that our baggage would be delayed until it was completed.
I felt gratified to know that our fallen soldiers were treated with the respect and gratitude that they deserve. And yes, we all waited again, an extra 15 minutes or so for our baggage.
And I thought of the family whose wait was over. The family out there in the dark night, receiving their son home at last. And I thought of their Christmas tears…like the rain.
Christmas at the Cross.
It was late when we drove into Greenville, NC, so we dropped off our luggage at the hotel and headed directly to the 6pm Mass. We knew ahead of time that it would be a youth choir with guitars and keyboard, but they were actually good, so I didn’t really mind.
We sat behind a young couple who had an infant son, not more than two months old. He was dressed all in green, and wearing what appeared to be a handmade crocheted cap. As usual when seated near children, my eyes kept wandering over to him. I thought of this lovely young couple soon to celebrate their first Christmas with their baby. Remembering our first Christmas with our son, I felt happy anticipation for them.
After receiving Our Lord, I knelt behind the young mother who was now seated and rocking her son gently in her arms. She had removed his cap, and his soft brown hair was visible. The choir began singing the thanksgiving song after Holy Communion: Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
And I found myself carried back to that night so long ago, when another Mother cradled her Infant Son. Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?
I wondered it the young mom before me was struck by her identity with Mary, as mother loving son…so touchingly portrayed in the lyrics of this song. To me, the young mom and her baby were an icon which drew me into a tender glimpse of Christmas….
Mary, did you know…that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.
Christmas in Bethlehem.
The woman seated to my husband’s left on the plane noticed when I reached into my purse for the aspirin bottle.
“Well, you won’t get a blood clot while flying, will you?”
I laughed and told her that I actually had a headache, and never worried about blood clots since I was always taking aspirin.
We exchanged a few other pleasant words, and then the plane began to land. As I gathered my things and prepared to enter the aisle, I wished her a Merry Christmas.
“We celebrate Yule,” she told me. Seeing my surprise, she explained further, “Winter Solstice. We celebrate on the 22nd.”
“Oh, well have fun,” I said, like an idiot.
But I prayed for this lady as I exited the plane. And I have prayed for her since, and will pray for her each time the Lord brings her to mind. I will especially pray for her at Mass on Christmas. I believe God puts such people in my path and yours, just to gather prayers for them. He is so Merciful! I hope that this lady will one day find her Savior.
Would you say a prayer for her too?
Jesus, it was for such as this woman that you were born…for all of us who are lost or who have been lost, that Your Love might find and save us. She, most of all, reminded me why You came. You are Savior! May You be forever praised!