Lights



Lights. That was all I saw walking down the snow-and-slush-covered streets. I slipped a few times and finally gave up trying to hurry. I slowed down, blinking the tears and snow flurries out of my eyes. The lights all blurred and I just saw a mass of flickering color. Christmas. Was this what it was like every year? I couldn’t remember.

Cars zoomed by, splashing slush onto the side of the road. A few people were rushing and sliding past me, trying to get out of this weather and inside, where it was warm and comforting; where their loved ones were waiting for them. I had nowhere to go. I stopped and looked through one of the big windows of a shop.

Christmas lights lighting up the manger scene. Santa Claus peering out from behind a fake Christmas tree, decorated from top to bottom in red and gold, a big star on top. Angels hanging from the ceiling, looking down upon stuffed teddy bears. A little boy stood screaming at his mother, pointing at a toy train. The mother tried to pull her son away, but he wouldn’t budge. The girl at the cash register smiled consolingly at the mother’s exasperation. Up above them on the wall, a plaque read, Peace on Earth. Was this what Christmas was all about?

I turned and walked on, finding myself in a park where a twinkle of light caught my eye. Two children holding sparklers were laughing and running around.Their parents were watching them with smiles on their faces and their arms around each other. I could tell they were happy, peaceful. Then the husband’s phone rang; he pulled it out of his pocket and answered it with a grave face. Happiness doesn’t last long, I thought.

I wandered aimlessly further into the park. The lamps on the side of the road cast strange shadows across the path. I sat on a cold bench without feeling the chill creeping in my bones. A sound of a lone voice struck my ears, and it was soon joined by other voices. The melody was familiar, yet so strange. Soon the source of the song appeared. They were Christmas carolers, bundled up for a long night outside. A young boy in the center of the group carried a big wreath. I looked away, hoping they wouldn’t notice me, but it was too late. The boy pointed at me and the whole group followed him to my bench. While they sung for me in perfect harmony, someone started lighting the candles on the wreath. “Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!”

My eyes were fixated on the candles. I knew they wouldn’t stay lit for long with the snow still falling, but I couldn’t tear my gaze from their flickering light. Is that what human life was like? Just a flame sparked suddenly, trying to survive in a world of rain and snow and darkness, and no matter how brightly it burned, a gust of wind could snuff it out? “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light.”

A light that lasts forever… I looked up at the sky. There weren’t many stars to be seen, but one lone star shone brighter than the others. Could it be? I recalled the story I had heard long ago in Sunday school. Jesus was the Light of the World. The Prince of Peace. The Savior. Looking at that light in the sky, I suddenly didn’t feel so alone. Maybe he was out there, lighting up my dark life. I wouldn’t give up quite yet.

© 2020 by Nancy E Wood