A Spiritual Snapshot for Christmas

These are dark times and hope feels elusive. I take comfort from my spiritual snapshots — experiences with various people who remind me that there is still goodness in the world. They remind me of the words of Willy Wonka “Thus shines a good deed in a cold, cold world.”

     Years ago I worked as a mailman during summers and the Christmas vacation. One winter I was trudging along the streets of Dunmore, weighted down with mail (this was in the days before those little mail trucks). It was snowing and I was cold to the bone. In addition, because I was the new mailman, I was running late and so incurred the very un-Christmasy wrath of various persons along the route. I definitely was in a Bah Humbug mood.

I entire a small apartment complex and found an elderly man waiting by the mailboxes. As I was sorting the mail into various boxes, the old man said something I couldn’t quite hear. “Another complainer”, I thought as I told him I didn’t hear him. He then placed a small amplifier on his throat. I realized this man suffered from throat cancer as I heard scratchy words come through his machine: “Merry Christmas” he said. I was speechless, stunned that anyone battling such a deadly disease, dealing with the loss of his voice, could still reach out with kind words to a half-frozen mailman. “And a happy New Year” he added as he gathered his mail.

I carried his words with me as I stepped back out into the snow. I’ve carried those words with me ever since. That old man taught me that kind words can be found even in the midst of the darkest tragedy. A lesson I hope I never forget.

Reflection: Do you have a spiritual snapshot from Christmases past?