Category: Christmas

The Old Barn

The chill in the air and the darkness prevailed in the little town, and they searched everywhere for a place to rest their weary bodies. There were no rooms available at this hour of the evening, and they were desperate to be delivered from the chill that was fast becoming frigid. To add to the woes of the young couple, the wife was with child.

               On the outskirts of town as the night became darker and more unnerving in its coldness the couple saw in the distance an old red barn with light presented through a small cut-out on the side facing them.

               The couple made their way to the barn of little light. Arriving at the old clap-board structure, a rotted entry door hanging loosely from a rusty hinge and nails. Entering the barn, the couple noticed the low light was coming from a stall some twenty feet away. They approached the opening where the light shone and saw a man on a bed of straw with a young foal trying to stand on its new legs.

               The man heard the rustle of feet on straw-laden earth, turned and saw the young couple. The mother of the foal died in the offering of her foal. The man had tears in his eyes for his dead friend who had been with him so many years. The tears were also for the lovely foal and its needs. It was as though the foal with its soft moaning sounds knew that its mother would not be there to nurture and provide for it.

               The man lifted his wife from the donkey and started to place her on a stretch of straw nearby, but the man on the straw-bed next to the foal bade the couple to come to the light and the ambient warmth. “Please, put your wife here where my body has created warmth for her and the child to be… I’m sorry I can offer no more. My home is there in the distance, now in ashes from a lightning strike. I have been staying here with my old friend, LeAnn, who has served me so well through the years. After a long space of labor and much pain, LeAnn simply had not the strength to bring her foal to life and sustain him on her own. We had our final moments together just before your arrival… Forgive me, please allow your wife to rest here. The bread and the few food edibles there on the small table. Please, nourish yourselves with what is there.”

               “Are you married, good sir?” The man helped his wife to the straw bed.

               “My good wife died one year ago today. She is in a good place, now, after much pain and suffering. My bed is two stalls down. You rest beside your wife after I move the foal to my stall.”

               “But, where is the foal’s mother, kind sir?”

               “Buried just beyond the barn.”

               “Yes, we saw the marker… You are so kind to us. There were no rooms to be had in the town, and I was worried for my wife.”

               “She will be fine here for tonight. Tomorrow, I will help you more. Is your wife close to delivery time?”

               “Yes. Any day, good sir. Your kindness means so very much to us. I should like to pay you for that kindness.”

               “There is no need for that. I have plenty of money should I want the luxuries of life, my new friend. I choose to live the way I do, away from those who live in wickedness, those who live to take from those good but gullible folks who know no better. Please, do not worry about me, I am in the element I wish to be. Now, please, take what comfort you can from my humble quarters here. Tomorrow, whatever your plans, I shall help you achieve them. Are you comfortable there, dear lady?”

                The wife gave a sad and warm smile to the man and nodded her thanks. My wife cannot hear you, kind sir. She is deaf and has been since birth. I thank you for both of us and my donkey, Sam.”

                “We have not shared our names, but my name is Peter Warmsley.”

               “My name is David Metters, my wife is Sarah.”

               The men shook hands.

               “My foal and I are off to our beds… Ah, but wait, what shall we call my foal. What wondrous name shall she bear? Any ideas, my new friends?”

               They thought for minutes, smiling, enjoying the moments of camaraderie. “Does the name, Jacob, please you?” The man thought but for a few seconds.

               “Indeed, it does. ‘Jacob’ is a good and solid name for this beautiful foal.”

               With that, the man, picked up ‘Jacob’ and began to leave the stall.

               “Tomorrow, we shall discuss your needs, my new friends, your travel plans, to what ends you seek. I wish you good night, David and blessed be Sarah who carries a child of grace.” Then, Peter left David and Sarah.

               As Peter walked away with Jacob, David said to the parting Peter, “And that will be the name of our child, good Peter. Sleep well and in peace, Peter and Jacob.”

               In some monumental way, David and Sarah’s lives changed that night of December 24, 1963.

A bright star twinkled outside the cut-out window, providing light through the night.

Billy Ray Chitwood – December 21, 2018

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Desperate Days of Winter

Desperate Days of Winter

The soul of man must feel the season of death, those December days and nights when the body’s joints stiffen and the morning strides become shorter from bedroom to bathroom, when the hot-faucet’s cold water takes so long to warm – and even the ‘recirculation system’ seems reluctant to work as advertised.

Aside from the lack of body comfort, the December months can easily take mind-trips to the gray fringes of thought, can speak of death and dying, can take an old man down a snowy memory lane to a younger day when December was still cold but also a time to rejoice, to feel the warmth of friendship, love, of gift-giving to those in need, of magical gladness and good will, of a little Baby lying in a small barn-stall in Bethlehem while Wise Men made their way to his manger to rejoice in His birth, and the stars marked their way.

An old man can think of the days that were but are not so much anymore, a day when it was not just okay but natural to say, ‘Merry Christmas’, a day when it was okay for mistletoe and kissing, a day when politics took a holiday as well as the people, a day when it was not so grim and ugly to be a democrat or a republican.

An old man can think of so many things in his desperate December because the world has gone on without him, to sing new songs to new generations with a panoply of new appetites and feelings, with actions and words alien to his golden years, with surprising new wishes for the world he will be leaving behind. The old man is mired there in that remote and desperate December, still with a modicum of hope that his family and its generations to follow will have a world that offers democracy, freedom, and the liberty to fulfill their wildest dreams.

The old man can still dream, still write his stories and, while he can have times of desperation in December, there is always a January and a new beginning.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!!

Billy Ray Chitwood – December 10, 2018

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Hearts Melt in the Snow

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Hearts Melt in the Snow

Mellowed by age, this ‘sunset’ heart still embraces the feelings that steal into its pulsing organ, that magic which changes the moods of scrooges and lightens the load of life’s vicissitudes.

I’ve always felt this organic change come over me during this special period of the year. I sense a commanding comaraderie and warmth emanating from people who normally seem  inclined to show gruff and negative personalities.

Makes me wonder…

Even warring people pause for their faiths, put on hold the bloodshed and killing at this time of the year.

Is the birthday of a Deity, a Deity Who wore human skin, bled from wounds of the sword, so manifest that it reaches the Souls of all? Even, those who wear their hatred as badges of honor? Is there an arcane flow of Spirituality running through so much of humanity?

Even the political personae seem to sincerely change from the many oratorical duels to pleasant grins of conciliation.

Is it the Christmas carol that speaks to us of a “Silent Night?” That speaks to us of a sacred “Little Town of Bethlehem? Perhaps the words from “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful” reach us in its divine plea!

Of course, I dismiss those believers of ‘from Darkness we come and to Darkness we go’! Dismiss them only because they cannot be reached, convinced that their ‘scientific knowledge’ beats out the ancient Prophets of the Old Testament and John, Mark, Matthew, Luke, Revelations of the New Testament. Though there are days when generational factions compete for their audiences, I hold as firmly as I can onto my Faith.

There are those, too, who languish in their dark prisons, or, lurk the dark alleys of our cities in search of criminal pursuits, those devoid of ‘Sense and Sensibility’…and, in most cases, they cannot be reached.

For the overwhelming numbers of us who wish to believe in a ‘Higher Order’, I can hold my belief that this ‘dynamic’ I feel during this season of giving, of love, is really a harbinger of ‘good tidings’ and a reminder that Love will conquer all.

Billy Ray Chitwood – December 15, 2017

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