I sat alone in church today, on Christmas. The familiar story of the baby in the manger made me smile. Singing the carols gave me Christmas joy. And tears. Twice I stopped singing to clear the lump in the throat and wipe away the stray tear slowly making its way down my face. A loved one is far away today, and I wonder if there’s a tree, or a special lunch, or gifts, or love.
Walking out of the church, a young friend hugged me. Another yelled “Merry Christmas, Kathy” across the parking lot. And I am headed to spend Christmas surrounded by family.
In the car, I let go of the tears and cried and prayed aloud that God will be present and bring Christmas joy and peace to the loved one on my heart.
With prayers still on my lips, I wiped away the tears to pull into the gas station. I can’t believe I forgot to fill my tank before Christmas Day again, and I breathed a thank you to God that this station is open today.
I pumped the gas and smiled at a lone black woman who approached me. “Do you have anything to spare?” she asked. “It’s Christmas, and sometimes times are hard.” I handed her two dollars and managed to get out a “Merry Christmas” before she hurried across the street to the store there. I got back into my car, my cheeks barely dry from my prayers, and I heard in my heart a gentle familiar voice, "When you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto me.” The Christ Child had come to me, and I breathed in peacefully, knowing my prayer had been heard.