Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)
TITLE: One Stop Before Leaving
By Loren T. Lowery
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Lamplights around the park began to blink on. Snow fell through the orbs of light, creating golden snow globes – translucent bubbles of light burning atop black poles.
Like white-laced silhouettes, the snow twirled and danced around the man in delicate pirouettes. Turning his face to the darkening sky, he smiled. People rushed by, warmly bundled, carrying wrapped gifts as it was the night before Christmas.
The air glistened with a crisp stillness. The man closed his eyes, breathing deeply. The hint of evergreen melded with the sweet incense coming from a darkened church across the street.
Red, green, yellow and blue Christmas lights strung through the trees began to flash on like fireflies in a late summer meadow - bewitching even the most harden of hearts to believe the magic, the miracle of Christmas.
“He must hurry.” An elf, hidden in the trees whispered. “The sleigh is full, children waiting all over the world. Why does he stop here?”
“This is your first trip with us, “another answered. “Miracles are born this night, you’ll see.”
A slight wind swept into the park, twirling the snow into crystal cyclones to creak the snow laden boughs of oak, pecan and fir. Nature’s voice began a lullaby wistful in her tenor and soothing in her tone.
Her breath caused light to shimmer across the fallen show, floating like flecks from an iridescent rainbow. Squirrels skittered, scattered, and squealed in mock protest as the wind’s icy fingers teased and fluffed their amber coats
Pine cones, nuts and nettles swayed in the air, teased by swooshing leaves. Some fell with a plop, plunk or plink. to the earth below. While others held fast their swaying branches – heralding their heroics in wooden, clop, clop clopping chimes.
The wind rose and fell like bellows on a hearth, and yet some strollers, young and old alike, braved its bite to reverently line either side of the park’s pathway. Some seated themselves next to the red-suited man as others handed unlit candles to everyone.
A bell tolled from the church, caroling time’s plod to midnight. Bong, bong…
“We must leave now, or Christmas will be lost.” The new elf said.
“If we don’t wait, Christmas will never begin,” the other countered.
And then the wind died and the park blinked dark freezing it in a black stillness. Across the street the oak and brass door of the shadowed church creaked open. Deep inside, a lone candle flitted upon the altar.
Those standing along the pathway jostled and murmured in anticipation, while those seated on the park bench stood.
From the far end of the dark parkway, the glitter of another candle emerged and with it, the sound of angelic voices raised in song.
Maria, gratia plena”
A procession of light and song began; and those along the pathway, soon fell in cadence behind the carolers. Their candles lit by the pilgrim before them to chase the darkness.
“Ave, ave dominus
Tears as dew drops glistened in humbled eyes, some falling to the ground in pools of liquid silver as they made their way to the altar.
“Benedicta tu in mulieribus”
The procession passed the white-whiskered man, but he did not join them, but rather stood back to wait and watch.
Soon light and carol joined as one to flood from the portals of the church to challenge the darkness outside. They raced into the night, carried by the wind, up above the horizon and far into the depths of the deepest forest.
Neither knew no boundaries, unfettered they sailed over exotic waters and distant lands.
They painted meadow and prairies with color and gave mountains their glory and morning her majesty. They rested on rooftops and settled in hearths to bring peace and joy and wonder to homes.
“Ventris tuae, Jesus. Ave Maria,” the red-coated man whispered. “First we must receive the Gift God did conceive.”
“Now?” The new elf asked more urgently. “We’ve much to do before dawn. Our task seems impossible.”
“Ho! Ho! Ho!” the man acknowledged him merrily, “But, when your heart is full of love, nothing is impossible.”
And in a twinkling, the impossible miracle of Christmas began again.
Ava Maria: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus” This song (mostly recognized with the music of Franz Schubert) is actually a prayer first recited by the Gregorian monks.
It is symbolic especially at Christmas as it shows the importance of Mary in being chosen to incarnate Jesus.
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