|Curiosity Corner: Amazing Grace|
|November 25, 2015 Gretchen Deter|
Grace rolled over in bed, rubbing her painfully arthritic hands, knowing that the cold and drafty second story room was not kind to her 70-year-old body. The wavy glass windows glistened with freezing white, frosty crystals, seemingly looking at Grace as she shivered. She reluctantly eased out of bed and quickly dressed for the day. As she opened the bedroom door, she heard the voices of her children who were quietly talking in the kitchen below. She smiled, for she knew her children were up and doing their normal morning duties.
Grace had a lovely two-story stone home. It stood quite conspicuously on the north edge of a tiny little town nestled in a barren part of the Nebraska prairie. With a substantial fortune, she and her husband had moved from England in 1889. However, fortunes do not keep death from knocking on one’s door and so it was with this pair. Grace’s husband died leaving her alone in a large home with nothing but empty rooms. The empty rooms were just too much for Grace. She needed to fill the lonesome void. Though she was older than most widows, she did not want to live out her life alone. Then, through her church, she heard of a project called The Orphan Train. This Orphan Train Project was started by some mission workers from the eastern coast cities. Their goal was to find homes out west for many of the orphaned and neglected children.
Grace decided that children would fill her wounded heart and her empty nest.
Things were better now. Grace smiled as she walked down her stairs seeing the seven busy children doing their morning work. They were all happy, healthy, and beautiful boys and girls filling her heart with joy.
Her life had been nothing but black and blue (the nights so black and the days so very, very blue). The children had given color back to her, the yellows shimmered, the whites sparkled, and the reds splashed vividness. This is what these orphans gave Grace.
The children had finished their work and the chores were done. Grace sat down in her chair by the warm stove. She called all of her sons and daughters to gather around her, for she had a special story to tell them. She began by telling them that it was Christmas Eve, (something they knew nothing about). Their eyes were large with expectation as she slowly started the age old Christmas story. She told them all about the miracle of the birth of the baby Jesus and the star that shone above him. When she finished, there was a silence as if angels were there with the children.
Finally, Grace stood up and told the kids that they would be going to church that evening and that the Christmas story would be told once again. The rest of the day was filled with baking, making gifts, and decorating the twiggy prairie tree the older boys found by a nearby stream. Though it was cold outside, their home was warm, filled with the joy of expectation. As the day moved to evening, it was time to get ready for church. It didn’t take the children long to get dressed and get the sleigh ready.
As they neared the church, the children saw the glow of the candles, the festive boughs, and their bundled up friends entering the front door.
Anxiously, they tumbled out of the sleigh barely waiting for their beloved mother to gingerly step down and lead them to the church. As they all sat in their places, the reverend started the service. He prayed and thanked the congregation for their presence on this blessed evening. Then he said that this Christmas Eve was going to be a very, very special one and did any of the children want to volunteer to take part in the Christmas play? Grace’s children, remembering the story from early that day, all took their places in the front of the altar. As it came time for Mary’s baby to arrive, the Pastor came out from behind the altar with a tiny bundle in his arms. He placed the wiggly little newborn in the manger and knelt beside it. He said a prayer and then faced the stunned congregation. He told them that this tiny little baby had been brought to the church only that morning and it needed a home.
The congregation went silent and many heads bowed down.
As a hush blanketed the congregation, Grace’s eldest son took the baby from the manger, walked back to his mother and gently gave her the beautiful child. There were tears in Grace’s eyes as she held the newborn so close to her breast. She knew she had been blessed with another child. This was an orphan that she would love and care for as she did her other children. Still no one moved or said a thing. Grace slowly and reverently walked back to the front of the altar, tenderly placing the child back into the manger and knelt beside it, as only Mary could have done, bowing her head in thankful prayer.
As Grace prayed, she heard her friends from behind her beginning to sing. The song started quietly and then filled the entire church. They were singing “Amazing Grace, how great thou art…” The Christmas Story had come alive before their very eyes.