Out of every negative a little positive will fall.
Given what is going on in the world right now, I thought this might be appropriate . . .
The elevator doors whooshed shut behind Marcus and he then proceeded to shake his head like a terrier, water droplets pelting everyone within 5 feet. Two people chuckled and moved away but one stayed and offered Marcus a towel.
“With this rain it could be a busy night but I’m hoping it’s the opposite”.
Lila was a petite brunette who usually smiled at everyone and everything. But when she was sad, her emotions spilled over everywhere. Marcus felt protective of her. She was just out of school and this was her first job. A heavy responsibility for a mentor.
“It’ll be fine kid. The rain can’t last. But I must say I have never seen it raining quite this hard or for this long. That weatherperson actually called it a 100-year storm. Seems we haven’t had one this bad in over a hundred years. I don’t believe it. They just say that to get people going. It helps their ratings.”
Marcus proceeded to put away his rain-soaked jacket. Every hospital has a group of people no one knows about. Or rather they just don’t think about them. These are the people that make sure the lights are working, the automatic doors stay automatic and the heat keeps everyone warm on those chilly days. Marcus was one of those people, part of a team. Some of his coworkers were full time and others, like Lila, worked part time. This was one day Marcus thought they might actually be working hard for their pay. Storms can wreck havoc with all kinds of systems.
Lila handed Marcus his first cup of coffee for the evening. There always seemed to be a full pot of coffee brewing. It helped during those sometimes-endless night shifts.
Marcus wrapped his hands around his cup and sighed.
“I heard there was a little excitement earlier. What’s going on? Is there anything I need to know?”
Marcus looked at Lila as he spoke and was surprised to see her face turn as white as a sheet. Her eyes grew wide, her jaw slack.
When she spoke, her voice was low and forced. She didn’t want to speak. But she knew Marcus needed to know.
“I hope it isn’t true. But it doesn’t feel right. What if he is? What if he’s angry with what we’ve done, or what we haven’t done? I, I’m afraid!”
Panic. Lila’s already small body seemed to shiver and folded in on itself. Marcus was bewildered, concerned!
“What is going on?”
He grabbed Lila’s arms, he spoke more briskly then he meant to . . .
“What . . Is. . Going. . On?”
“Let her go. I’ll tell you what’s going on. You can decide.”
Marcus quickly let go and turned to face the new voice. It was another co-worker. John was the unflappable sort. He had a good head for numbers and was a killer at crossword puzzles. He was also wearing a worried expression on his face.
With a quick look at the raging storm just outside their window, the three sat down. Lila composed herself but she still looked shaken. John took the lead.
“We had an intake a few hours ago. In the Emergency Room. A man was brought in bleeding from several cuts on his head and both his hands. Nothing too outrageous. When he was asked what his name was, he said Jesus Christ.”
Marcus started to grin.
“Yeah, we get those every now and then. Delusional people. They’re just looking for a warm bed in the psych ward and a free meal.”
He shook his head, seeming to brush everything off. His grin was firmly in place.
“Besides it doesn’t affect us down here. Did he break anything?”
“I don’t think so,” John whispered, “but I don’t think you understand. He sounded . . . Holy.”
Lila started to whimper. “He’s angry with us!”
Marcus jumped up from his chair.
“The second coming? That’s what you’re thinking aren’t you? Look, we get these crazies all the time! What makes this one different?”
“All over the world there’s excessive flooding and forest fires and outbreaks of diseases and, and . . .” Lila couldn’t continue.
“Well, what did the doctors do? I’ll bet they put him on a 72-hour psych hold. The rain will give up tomorrow morning and all of this will be something we laugh about tomorrow night. It’s just another crazy.”
“You didn’t hear Him speak.” whispered John. “You didn’t hear His words. I did.”
“Okay I’ll bite, what did the crazy man say?”
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
It was at that exact moment that the lights flickered and died.
Lord, have mercy.
The future is ahead, the past is behind, and the present can be shaped to our liking.
I originally shared this story in 2013. That was the first year for my blog. I was quite shocked at the response. To date I think this remains my most popular post. It was simply me with something to say tucked inside a story. I do that a lot. I will also admit that I think this is one of my favourite tales. I have decided to post a story every Sunday in December. My Christmas present to you. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then may I please offer you the blessing of my holiday to you.
Santa Claus is Dead?
‘Santa Claus is dead.’
When Sebastian Phillips finished writing that phrase on his bulletin board he turned around to see what the reaction had been on his students. He was not disappointed. Because this was a first-year philosophy course he expected them to be a little green when it came to abstract ideas. After all they were just kids. Truth be told, Professor N. Sebastian Phillips wasn’t all that much older than his students.
When he looked around the room Sebastian saw surprise, humour and perhaps disbelief, it was also very quiet. Here he was, a college professor talking about a white haired, fat man in a red suit as if he were real. Well real and dead.
“When you signed up for this course I am quite sure you were not expecting to talk about a symbol for a religious holiday that has come to mean the excesses of commercialism that are rampant in our society.”
Sebastian looked out at his students. They seemed relieved, this was more like it.
“Santa Claus does exist.”
Now Sebastian heard a few giggles and was that a grunt?
“Professor, those two statements cannot both be correct. There either is a Santa Claus or there isn’t. I mean really! ”
Sebastian grinned, “Actually they can Adam. A thing can only be dead if it first existed. “
“Come on Professor there is no Santa Claus! That is only a marketing gimmick to get parents to buy more for their kids. Commercialism at its best: vulgar!” These words were spoken by a young woman with an earring in her nose and one in her belly button which flashed every time she turned around.
“Well Cindy, yes and no.”
At this point the room erupted in confusion. A great many of the students were arguing about the wisdom of using symbols, some about the evils of commercialism in general and the western world’s corruption of money in particular. Sebastian noted which students seemed to think he was demented and which students were curious. Curious minds are open minds.
Very quietly Professor Phillips spoke. “Amanda did you believe in Santa Claus as a child?”
The room was suddenly quiet. Everyone turned and looked at Amanda, eager to learn her answer. The professor had chosen to ask the one person in the room who appeared normal. She was conservatively dressed with no strange piercings throughout her body. She also preferred to observe any heated discussions without actually joining in.
“Amanda . . .” her professor coached.
“Yes.” Was the quiet response.
“And how did you feel when you learned that the jolly man in a red suit was just a marketing ploy.”
The answer was a few minutes in coming and it was not the answer everyone was expecting. “I still believe in Santa Claus and I do not believe he is dead professor.”
For the second time that morning there was complete silence in the room, a stunned silence.
And then there was pandemonium. Only snippets of conversations could be heard. “I always knew that woman was nuts!” Geez I wish I had taken a mathematics course, that would of made sense.” “It is going to be a very long day.” “Do you want to go to the pub afterwards I think I could use a drink?” “I don’t know who is more insane: that Amanda chick or that Professor?”
Professor Phillips let the arguments roll about the room for several minutes. During this time Amanda just sat and looked at her hands as if she was too timid to become involved in a conversation she had helped to create.
“Okay everybody pipe down, you have had your little discussions and each one of them has some sort of validity. Problem is you’re not listening. Does Santa Claus exist? Yes. Does he exist as a fat, old man in a red suit? Yes. That guy in the red suit is on every corner in the Western world ringing a bell and selling products. Something can exist in more than one embodiment. We see the jolly, old fella and we equate him with shopping at Christmas. Do you know where the idea for Santa Claus came from? Amanda might. Because she alone seems to understand what Santa Claus represents, and who he is. Let me tell you a little story.”
“In a coastal town called Patra, in what is now Turkey, in the year 260AD a child was born. His name was Nicholas. His parents were taken from him when he was a child and yet he still grew up with a generosity of spirit and a love of children. He was a rich young man who tried to use his money to give other people happiness. He did ‘good’ in secret. Eventually he became known as St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra and his generosity continued.”
“Over the centuries St. Nicholas has become beloved by many religions. Our Western tradition of Santa Claus and Father Christmas originated with St. Nicholas. His faith and his actions make remembering him more important even in our day and age. He is our Santa Claus and people need to remember him. In essence it is his spirit of giving that is behind our traditions at Christmas. The spirit of Santa Claus is alive and well.”
“A beautiful character is more powerful and more memorable to more people than any marketing ploy or religious dogma. Santa Claus, even if he comes in the guise of a human being is still the loving spirit of the good Nicholas. Santa Claus does exist, and should continue to exist for as long as we remember what he stands for.”
There was total silence in the room. Not a single student had a humorous quip, or disparaging remark to make. In fact when Sebastian looked around the room he saw only understanding and awe. Finally, these supposedly well educated young adults had picked up on something that all children knew from a very young age: if you believe, it will endure.
Sebastian smiled to himself and started to gather up his books and notes. The class had gone well, better than he’d expected. But the year was getting on and there are places he needed to be so he was going to have to tender his resignation and move on. But at that point Sebastian realized that not every student had left the room. He looked up.
“Amanda, how can I help you?”
“Professor Phillips you haven’t been completely honest with us have you? I know that Santa Claus exists and not as the jolly, red suited man, but rather as St. Nicholas/St. Nick. You see my family can trace its roots back to that same town in which St. Nicholas was born. As a matter of fact we’ve kept a very close watch throughout the years on the descendants of that family. It has always been the responsibility of my family to ensure that yours is protected. I’m surprised you didn’t know that. What’s your first name Professor Phillips?”
“Yes I thought perhaps you did know,” Sebastian’s grin was even more pronounced. You know I won’t be here next week. I have a lot of preparing to do and Christmas is not far away. And yes I am Nicholas/St. Nick. ”
When I was a child
I dutifully prayed,
And went to church
I learned about God
His son and the Ghost
And the way I needed
In time I learned more
And questioned the past.
My relationship grew
Wherever we are
There is never just one
We are His Church
I have learned.
We all stand together,
One voice raised to the sky
Whether inside or out
He is there.
In my heart He resides
And teaches me still.
His community of love
Will live on.
I would like to be remembered for a sunny disposition even on a rainy day.
I pray for the day when ‘we’ and ‘them’ becomes ‘us’.
Deep down everyone wants to believe they are special. Well I am and so are you. You just have to believe.
A silly little bird
Is flitting round my brain.
I fear it may do damage
My memories it may drain.
But wait a bit I’ve got it wrong
So typical of me.
The silly tit’s a song
And he’s singing just for thee.
The words go back and then go forth
Just like a bird in flight.
I hear the tune so clearly now
My memories they are tight.
I love the song this birdie sings
A gentle misty tune.
If only all could hear his song
Of peace and love and soon!