The House That Forgot Christmas

  
The little blue house at the end of the street looks different this winter. She has always kept a tidy home and garden, with windows washed, porches swept, and shrubs well-trimmed. The neat little cottage never lacked for maintenance or paint, the window boxes always had bright flowers, and when an errant leaf fell on the lawn, it was promptly removed. But not this year. The fall leaves are piled in windswept heaps underneath unkempt boxwoods. Frost-killed begonias are still in their pots on the porch. The whole house has a neglected, forgotten look about it. She’d always loved decorating for Christmas. Strands of sparkly white fairy lights were her favorite and she would drape them around every window and door frame. Candles would light each window and a huge evergreen wreath bedecked the front door. But this December there had been no Christmas lights or welcoming wreath. This year, Christmas came and went with the little blue house giving it no notice. Its blank windows stared out at the street, unblinking, not giving away any clue as to what’s happening inside.  

And inside the little blue house at the end of the street something incredible is happening. Something so amazing and completely other-worldly is happening there that every newspaper and television station on earth should be crowded into the quiet street out front, clambering for interviews and updates. Instead, only a few family members, a nurse, and a priest are there to bear witness. They come each day and gather around her bedside. Some bring food. Others, medicine. When the priest comes, the others meet him at the front door with a lighted candle (a Christmas candle?) and walk silently with him to her room. There they find a small table covered with a white cloth near her bedside. On it is a crucifix, two candles, a bottle of holy water an a few other items. The visitors kneel in reverence, not to the priest, but to the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, which he has brought with him. They join in prayer. She is anointed with oil and receives Holy Communion.  

As she had lived her life in the faith of Jesus Christ, she is meeting her death in that same steadfast love. Her family, in their charity, has made certain that her wishes are being followed. Her pastor was notified of her physical condition so that he could come to offer her the Sacraments of the Church she loved. Her family was prepared for his visits and had assembled everything the priest would need on the table in her room. Doing this is an act of charity and mercy for the woman they love and who is preparing to meet her Lord. 

And that meeting, whether later today or sometime in the days to come, is indeed a miracle. If you’re ever blessed to witness this sacred journey with someone you love, be truly grateful. We should never forget that the holy death of a faithful Christian is a triumph and not a tragedy. Yes, we cry for the loss of our loved one, but we also rejoice in the hope of our salvation in Christ, Who is victorious over death. When we kneel there, at the bedside of our loved one, we witness “as through a glass darkly”(I Corinthians 13:12) the unbearable beauty of the presence of God. Inside that little blue house at the end of the street is Bethlehem and Bethany, Calvary and Easter morning. Angels crowd the rooms, their holy wings brushing against the walls, infusing the house with the incense of heaven. So much grace that a mere earthly life can no longer contain it. And so, she flies free. And home. 

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants.”

         —-Psalm 116:15 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. frjuanvelez
    Jan 04, 2016 @ 02:39:10

    I must have missed something. I think someone should have decorated the home. It is a homecoming, a joyful encounter. But it is a sacred moment and the angels are present.

    Reply

    • tiberjudy
      Jan 04, 2016 @ 04:42:51

      I drew on my own experience with my mother’s death when writing this. During the months of her last illness, all of us were so focused on taking care of her that we didn’t look at the calendar. We had to use all our energy and focus for her care. Holidays didn’t mean anything to our family as we kept vigil at her bedside. Also many of us notice “that house” in the neighborhood that didn’t decorate for Christmas and we may fail to consider that someone in that house may be preparing to die. Decorating is not a priority when you’re watching someone you love die.

      Reply

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