Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)
- TITLE: Sleep In Heavenly Peace
By Connie Dixon
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Our neighbor Charlie had filled up the wood bin with his own personal pine supply; fallen trees from an erratic storm had made it necessary for him to brush up on his lumberman’s skills. He’d been furnishing firewood to neighbors all around the lake for some months now. We were all secretly grateful for the storm, and publically appreciative of Charlie’s hard work and generosity. He even took it upon himself to enter our cabin’s unlocked doors and place fresh logs and newspapers in the hearth for some instant warmth. The chill would fade quickly as the fire lapped up the pine pitch and devoured its prey.
Charlie never said much, but he was a kind old fellow with a twinkle in his eye and a wound in his heart. His quiet ways didn’t reveal much about himself or his wife, or the tragic accident that had ripped her from him, but when you got to know him, you understood that he had loved her more than life itself. Every time her name was mentioned, he would fake a sneeze or clear his throat just to keep the tears from spilling over. I could have never imagined the pain that consumed this dear old man until last week when Dan died unexpectedly.
That Tuesday morning we had been making plans for the holiday week-end and a few hours later Dan’s boss was at my front door………crying uncontrollably – unable to utter the words that would inform me that my Danny – his closest friend and partner - was gone. He crumpled into my arms…sobbing…like a little boy who had just watched his puppy get crushed by a speeding car. His incomprehensible utterances had to be some sort of dreadful mistake. Was it a cruel prank? No, Bob had witnessed the horror, he watched it happen. The two of them were in the office discussing some new venture they were about to launch, when Dan suddenly sat down, grasping his left shoulder, his face ashen and his forehead wet like an old kitchen window on a cold, rainy night. By the time Bob had dialed 911, Dan’s vibrant essence had been replaced by a lifeless shell.
How could he leave me so soon? "Oh Dan……I miss you so much."
The snow slowly began its delayed pilgrimage to earth, while the warmth from the fire managed to heat the brisk surroundings. I wanted to fall into bed and cry myself to sleep but I would not give in to the overwhelming grief and loneliness that had kept me prisoner for the past few days. The only times I had ever spent in this place were happy ones, and this time would be no exception. Somehow, some way, I would get through this.
Wait!! What was that? Outside! Beyond the steamy window, bouncing lights reflected like diamonds off the glistening snow, lanterns or maybe flashlights……yes lanterns and flashlights followed by a small group of…no a multitude of…of heavenly hosts? Carolers? As the troupe advanced, they became recognizable in spite of winter clothing. The Baird’s were among them with all six of their children, even three-year-old Jocelyn crooned joyfully while clinging tightly to her new Holiday Barbie. There were others, neighbors from around the lake, and then I saw Charlie. As they reached the porch, Charlie shuffled forward and held my hand as if to assure me, it would be ok. The familiar carol continued……’Round yon Virgin Mother and Child, Holy Infant so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace. Because of God’s love expressed through my neighbors that Christmas Eve, I knew I would survive the holiday and indeed I would ‘sleep in heavenly peace.’
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