By CeCe Lane
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The entire world it seemed was clothed in white. From the very top of the sky to bottom of the earth, all was white. The streetlights gallantly tried to shed their golden light on the street beneath their lofty height, but even that was more white than golden. Yes, it appeared the world was wrapped in a quilt of soft, downy snow. The bare tree branches were draped in garments of white. Their thick trunks were also coated over with snow. The earth was carpeted deep and plush in it as well.
Occasionally the wind would gust and you could hear the snow hitting the side of the cabin. But that was the only sound. The snow it seemed muffled all other sounds. If you strained your hears, you could the occasional car drive by on the street. But there weren’t many out on a night like tonight.
Inside all was snug and cozy. A fire blazed on the hearth, taking the chill from the room. It cast a creamy golden light over the room illuminating the darkest corner. The fire made the room; otherwise bleak and drab seem cheerful.
In front of the fireplace sat an old woman knitting mittens. She didn’t seem to mind the weather outside at all. Beside her on the table sat her reading glasses and a mug of hot tea. “Nothing warms a body like a hot cup of tea.” She was fond of saying.
Every now and again she cast a furtive glance toward the window, almost as if she were expecting someone. But no one who had any sense would be out on a night like this. Everyone would be at home, with their family and their tea, not out in a blizzard. But still she looked.
She had a feeling of expectancy. Not many people came visiting. She just knew someone would come, some how she knew it as sure as she knew her own name.
The snow kept falling deeper and deeper. Soon it would be impossible for anyone to make to her house. She didn’t want to get her hopes up, her feeling could be just the yearning of a old woman. But still, as she sat making the mittens she couldn’t help but wonder who it could be. Who would visit her this night?
She must have dozed off there in front of the fire when she woke with a start. “Was that a pounding on the door?” She started to her feet shaking the sleep from her mind. “I might be needed. There might have been an accident. I must be alert.” Again she heard the knocking on the door louder this time, more insistent. With slow shuffling footsteps she made her way to the door, unlocked it and peered out in to the blinding whiteness.
On the porch stood a young man. Well-trimmed beard, of average height, he had a face one would not forget and one she could not remember. All to soon she realized the danger she had placed herself in by opening the door to this stranger. He grinned at her and said, “May I come in? It’s awfully cold outside.”
“Of course. Of course. Can I get you anything? Let me put the kettle on the stove again. I’m afraid it’s gotten cold.”
“That would surely be nice. A cup of tea sounds very good on a night like tonight.” He replied stepping into the room, shaking the snow off his coat and stamping his feet on the mat by the door. He surprised her by seemingly knowing his way around the kitchen—her kitchen almost as if he had been there before.
In fact he seemed entirely too familiar and she started to greatly fear for her safety. Why o why did I open the door to him? She wondered to herself. She started thinking of all the Wanted Posters she had seen that afternoon at the Post Office. None of them looked like this man, and he looked too nice to be on a wanted poster. But those are the kind you have to watch out for. They don’t look evil but they are.
As she was lost in pondering, the man had completely made himself at home in her kitchen. He had gotten out the teacups, Ah! He got out Grandmother’s china! Oh LORD; don’t let him break them please. She saw the cream and sugar were already on the table. What is he doing now? She wondered, for it seemed he was removing all the spices from her cupboard. Slowly she looked around the room it all seemed normal except for the things he had removed. All the spices, a pan, knife and salt. It seemed a strange collection of items to steal and a stranger collection of items for tea.
“What may I ask are you doing, young man? I’ll have you know I live here still. This is my house and I resent you coming in here and stealing right under my nose. I may be old and frail, but I’m not blind and I’m not deaf. I am however, calling the police.”
“You can’t do that. The lines are down.”
“How would you know that? Did you cut them yourself so you could come in here and wreak your havoc?”
“No. I heard about it on the radio in my car. The storm did something to the power lines and the phones are out. So is your electricity. It’s a mighty good thing you have a fireplace and a gas-stove.”
She felt only slightly better by his explanation. She wasn’t sure she could believe it but she would give him the benefit of the doubt this time. “You didn’t answer my question. What are you doing?”
“I need to replace some of your spices. These are old and aren’t fit for use anymore. So I’m replacing them with some I have in my car outside.”
“Are you a salesman? I’m on a fixed income and I can’t afford any fancy spices. So please just put those back now.”
“Ma’am I’m not a salesman exactly. Here, look at this. Cardamom, see how low it is? Now here smell it.” He gently placed the jar under her nose. She sniffed and it did smell a bit odd but it was still all right. “Now, I’m going to replace it with this.” And he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small vial, opened it and handed it to her. “Smell this.”
Oh heaven! It smelled just like heaven. “What is that? It smells like heaven.”
“It is a little bit of heaven. It’s love, God’s love. When you use this, and you need to use it in large doses you will spread this scent to all the world.”
“God’s love? I have that already. I’m His child. I have His love already. I don’t need a jar of it.”
“Do you? Do you really have His love?” His gaze pierced her, it was almost as if this stranger knew her. “How did you respond last week when that man got in line ahead of you at the bank? Or how about when the child sat on a corner of your grass? The very grass you told your friend that morning was ‘God’s grass.’”
“Oh. That man cut in front of me and I was in a hurry. I needed to be at Bible study. And that child, really someone should teach him to mind his manners and not sit on other people’s grass. How did you know about those?”
“It matters not how I know. What you don’t know is that man is blind. He didn’t know you were standing there. As for the child, he had just lost his mother and had sat down sobbing because he couldn’t walk any further.”
The lady gulped back a hasty response. She hadn’t known. “What other spices you have?” She wasn’t sure she was going to like this much.
“Ahh. One of my personal favorites, Cilantro.” He opened the lid, took a long sniff and made a face. “Only this one is nasty.”
“What will you replace it with?”
“Ahh this is the one!” He said reaching again into his jacket pocket. “Joy.”
She knew she had lost her joy a long time ago and this spice was one she thought she could use. She eagerly awaited his explanation of it.
“Joy. Joy but not temporal joy for that isn’t real at all. No, this joy is real. This is the joy that sees you through difficult times. The joy that makes you smile when your world is crashing apart. Joy…that makes you smile through your tears.”
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