Martha sat on the old thread-worn davenport in front of the chilled and lifeless fireplace.
The fire had burned out several hours earlier, the last of the wood all gone now, along
with most of her strength. “Oh, Lord, I’m so cold. Fill me with Your warmth.” With not
even one ember left, she huddled deeper under the homemade afghans and let her
memories drift back over the past.
John and her were married 70 years ago when she had been seventeen and he
twenty-two. He had built this cabin for her, starting their life together in January. A cold
one it was too! But John kept a big fire going in the fireplace and lots of wood stacked
and ready. The big old cook stove burned wood too and helped keep them cozy. And
besides, they were in love, no matter how cold it was their hearts kept them warm.
How she loved John. He had been a hard worker. His favorite season had been
spring. He loved plowing the ground anew, the smell of fresh turned earth, and planting
the tiny seeds, watching for tender sprouts. He surveyed the clouds closely for rain and
thanked God for the life it produced. He loved the longer days and hard work they
Martha had worked hard in the house and barnyard. Taking care of the chickens,
gathering eggs, helping with new born calves and pigs. And her garden. So much work
and time spent in that garden. Preparing the ground, planting, weeding, harvesting,
canning. But oh, how grand the rewards! That’s why Martha’s favorite season was
winter. It was a time of reaping from all the hard labor the rest of the year brought. A
time of relaxing and enjoying the shortened days, the long evenings before the fire.
Martha remembered winter nights spent in the barn with John as they sat with birthing
cows and the excitement as new life entered the world. And Christmases through the
years had been such fun. John always cut the biggest tree he could find, placing it in
front of the big living room window. She would decorate it with homemade cinnamon
cookies, strings of popcorn, and tiny candles. She would cook and bake till the house
smelled like a confectionery store. And John always hung mistletoe, though he never
needed an excuse to pick her up and swing her about, kissing her all the while. Martha
smiled at the memories.
Christmas Eve always found them in town at church for the program and festivities.
Afterwards, at home again, they would have hot chocolate and home baked goodies
and open their gifts to each other. One Christmas Eve had been extra special. Her gift
to John was to tell him he would be a papa. He had been so excited. She remembered
giggling as he ran around shouting about all the toys he would be making for next
Christmas. But, alas, it was not to be, for the little tyke came early and was still born.
Time had rushed by. Her and John had grown older, more bent, and life had taken its
toll on them. Two years ago John had chopped wood all summer and autumn. It took
him twice the time to do a cord as in years past, but he seemed determined to keep at
it. In November John had gotten sick and never recovered. The doctor said his heart
had just grown too weary. Since then, Martha has been alone.
And now John’s wood was gone. “Lord, thank You for the good life You’ve blessed me
with. Thank You for being my Savior.”
There was a knock at the door. Martha struggled to her feet to see who might be out
her way on this bitter cold night. When she turned the knob the door blew open
enveloping her with a rush of warm air. The sun was shining, the grass green. Flowers
in bloom and trees fully leafed. “Why, John! How... what...?”
“I’ve come to take you home, Martha.”
“John, I’ve missed you... I’ve been so cold.”
“Never again, my love. We’re going where the Light never fades and the river of Life
flows. Where the fruit is ripe and fields of flowers are always in bloom. Come now,
winter is past and it is time to reap your reward in the place where it is forever spring.
My favorite season, you know,” he said grinning.
And Martha, taking John’s hand, stepped into spring eternal.
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