Christmas Bells

Bonnie recently mentioned how much she enjoyed still seeing Jack’s picture on the bulletin board. It’s there along with pictures of Nancy Montgomery, Joe Carter, and Jim and Mary Sexton. We lost the physical presence of all five within the last year or so, and their absence is keenly felt. Especially during the holidays.

I recently read that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was likewise feeling the loss of a wife who died in childbirth, a second wife who died when her dress caught fire, and worrying about a son who was clinging to life after being wounded in the Civil War when, during the Christmas season, he wrote “Christmas Bells.”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familial carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

An empty chair at the table, gifts no longer shared, and an empty stocking are painful reminders of lost loved ones. But the gift we received on that first Christmas brings with it the promise that if the babe of Bethlehem is received as our mutual risen Lord, the separation is only temporary. The tears we shed will one day be wiped away, the wrongs we suffered will be made right, and peace will actually become a reality.

Longfellow believed that to be true, and reminding himself of it, went on to write one more verse.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Merry Christmas & God Bless, Rick

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