~A Christmas Parable~
“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight…”
Members and Friends,
I don’t know if this really happened, but I know this story is true:
Back in the days when cars were smaller and nobody had a cellphone, a certain fellow got caught in a snowstorm. This took place—if it happened at all—not far from the spot where you’re sitting. In fact, I think you’ve been there… Oh, he should have known better. There was a yellow and black sign to warn him “No Winter Maintenance” on the old gravel road. He was almost out of gas, too. But he didn’t want to change course; he had new snow tires, and he really thought he could make it. Alas, soon enough, his car skidded off the road and got lodged in a ditch. Snowblind and stuck, with temperatures dropping into the teens, he decided to wait out the storm in his car. The gas ran out and the heater quit just as the blizzard was getting started.
But the fellow remembered that his wife had stashed one of those seven-day candles in the trunk, in hopes of placing it by her mother’s grave for Christmas. He ducked out into the snow to fetch the candle, stuck it in the coffee holder and lit it. He sat in his car and shivered by the light and the scant heat of that candle.
An hour or two passed when he heard someone rapping at his window. “I saw the light coming from your car,” a stranger called to him. “I wrecked my car, too. Can I come inside and wait out the storm with you? Please,” the stranger begged. “I have some peanuts and pretzels that I’ll share with you.” Now, the man with the candle was suspicious of the stranger; he talked funny, dressed funny, belonged to a different race. But in life-and-death circumstances, even a racist and a homophobe can feel compassion. He wouldn’t put a dog out into a night like this, and so the man with the candle invited the stranger inside. While the blizzard raged all around them, the two men huddled together in the little car, lighted and heated by a single candle. To pass the empty hours, the men talked, told their stories, and discovered that though the world outside had taught them to be enemies, at a time and a place like this…they were friends.
The snowstorm raged colder and longer than anyone expected. But with two men hunched together in a small space, the seven-day candle produced just enough heat to keep them from freezing. Later, after they were rescued, everyone marveled at the tale they would tell: On a dangerous night, two enemies joined forces against the darkness and the cold. When death drew near, two strangers found that they were friends. Two men had lived to tell the tale—and tell it with repentance—of how they’d been saved from their own foolish choices, rescued from the deadly night, brought together, given a second chance…and all because of a single candle, burning in the dark, one lonely candle, burning in the cruelest night! Celebrate the light!