Friday, December 26, 2014

Miracle of the Littlest Christmas Tree!

 The story of the 
Littlest Christmas Tree...

(It’s true... and it happened in Cannon Falls.  Originally printed in the Beacon in 1979.  

Now on Youtube - The Miracle of the Littlest Christmas tree

The little pine tree sat in the city sales lot among many bigger and prettier Christmas trees.  Its trunk was crooked and shoppers pushed it aside in their search for the “perfect” tree to bring home and decorate for the  holiday.
One family was particularly sad that year because Grandpa had just died.  But they went on with the motions of preparing for the holidays.
And they bought a tree for their home.

No cheering up

But what about Grandma?  Her home was so empty without Grandpa.  Maybe a tree would cheer her up.
But by that time there was only the rather scraggly crooked pine tree left that would fit the purpose.  They took it.
But when they brought it to Grandma they saw that she was too heartbroken to have a real tree that year.
She only wanted the miniature artificial tree that one of the children had brought to Grandpa when he was in the hospital.
And so, the little pine tree was put aside... again.

But that’s not the end of the story!

The family left Grandma and went back home.
They tried to give away the little pine tree but it seemed everyone already had a tree.  But there just had to be a place for it!
Then they thought of a small church nearby.  The sanctuary was already decorated with a huge Christmas tree.
But a large room used for the Sunday School classes was empty.  So why not set up the little tree here?
The children could decorate it.  And they did.

But that’s still not the end of the story.

For Christmas Day came... bright and cold.
Especially cold.
The church’s furnace had gone out during the night.
The sanctuary was freezing.
But the auxiliary heater in the Sunday School room had kept on perking.  And that was the only warm place in the whole church!

And do you know where the Christmas Service was held?

In that room!
And do you know which tree was all lit up and glowing for the entire congregation?
Of course!
And it was a beautiful tree!
I know this story is true because I helped pick out the tree.

And I think it was really two miracles 

One was having a decorated tree for the Christmas Service and the other was seeing the beauty in something others had rejected.

And miracles like this will never end... 
as long as you and I look for them... 
every day of the year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My favorite Grinch… this Christmas! Enjoy!

My favorite “Grinch”... this Christmas!

( I previewed this column with some of the folks mentioned.  I changed some words because they had different meanings for them than for me.  
They may not agree with me but understood my wanting to express my view.  
One was concerned that readers wouldn’t read to the end for the concept I was trying to make.  Please show them they were wrong! )

The Grinch is a bitter, grouchy creature with a heart "two sizes too small" who lives on a steep mountain just north of Whoville, home of the merry and warm-hearted beings know as “Whos”.  (Or could that be our town and the folks known as “Whos-its”?)
But this favorite children’s book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, by Dr. Seuss, shows that the Grinch is really a soft sweet person inside when he finds out that the holiday celebration represents more than presents and parties.  
A new “Grinch”!

And this brings to mind a new friend of mine, Ken Kressin.  He has become somewhat well known in this area for his public confrontation of what he sees as problems in the Christian church via his challenging letters to the editor and picketing.
I got to know him a little because his book discussion group was reading topics I was interested in.  They’re called the Free Thinkers.  
I figured that included me - although some might think I fit better as a kind of  “Goofy Thinker”!  Anyway, I asked if I could come to their meeting.
It’s been a few months now and I’ve learned a lot.  I particularly enjoy how much we all laugh!   Although I think Ken is one of the more serious ones there, I see a gentle smile once in awhile.

“Token Christian”

One of them has nicknamed me “their token Christian”, as they mostly tend toward atheism.   At the first meeting they started picking on some of those in my faith but I didn’t have a problem with that because some of us need to be set straight.  But after a while, in a moment of silence... (not many of those you know!) I explained:  “I am a Christian... is that going to be a problem?”
They thought quietly for a moment and decided it wouldn’t. 

Enjoy the talk!

Here’s what I have found out.  We enjoy talking!
One of my favorite stories I related to them is about a former priest at St. Pius, Leon Bonin.  He allowed me to be an “outside the box” type of Christian.
On spur of the moments we would see each other and talk.
One time he was out for a walk.  We got on the topic of Catholicism.  He asked me if I had ever considered becoming a Catholic.  I was listening.  
He said they had changed some things in their doctrine so I would be able to change easier.  He mentioned one and I responded that I still had some reservations about that.  He suggested another and I had something that concerned me about that too.  He was going to tell me another one, when I stopped him and said,  (with tears in my eyes even to this day), “Don’t say anything more, because I just love you.”
In other words, I don’t have to agree with you but you mean a lot to me. 


And this brings me to my philosophy on my Free Thinker friends.  I mentioned to them that some atheist thinkers might consider themselves to have been created from the foam in an ancient sea.
But because I consider my friends to be part of a species that was made in the image of God, I may actually think more highly of them than they think of themselves!  Cool!
And l like to remember the ending of Dr. Seuss’ story about the Grinch... where they celebrate the festive season together because it has more meaning than presents and parties.

So I wish you all a Merry Christmas...  and may we all be happy “Grinches” in the New Year!