Posts Tagged ‘peace on earth’

Christmas is hard when we have lost those we love.

 During the Civil War, a husband struggled with the loss of his wife.  His first wife died when he was young, and he mourned seven years. 

Then he married again.  They were a happy family, rejoicing in their five children.  His youngest three daughters filled their home with laughter: grave Alice, and laughing Allegra, and Edith with golden hair. 

 One hot spring day, while her husband slept in the next room, his wife trimmed Edith’s hair.  The golden curls were so pretty she decided to save one lock as a keepsake.  She used sealing wax to hold the lock of hair into place when tragedy struck.

A spring wind breezed through the room. Her dress burst into flames.  Either the sealing wax spilled onto her dress or the match did.  Her first instinct was to protect her daughters.  So she ran screaming, a tower of flames, into her husband’s study next door.  He awakened and tried to save her. 

First, he covered her with a rug to smother the flames.  The rug was too small.  Still, she burned.  He threw his arms around her and put out the final flames with his own body.

She died of burns the next morning.  He was so badly injured that he could not attend her funeral.  His face was so burned that he was never able to shave again and wore a beard the rest of his life.

Her horrific death happened near the beginning of the Civil War. Then his firstborn son, 19, returned from the war, critically injured.  Christmas was the hardest.  He could not celebrate.  The man asked his friends, “Where is peace?”

God gave him solace to his grief on Christmas Day, 1863, as the morning church bells rang. 

The mourning husband, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote a poem that would become the carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent

 The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

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!”

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!”

 I hope you hear the bells this Christmas Day! 

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“America is going to rot!” the man in front of me ranted at the bread store. “Our government has no money. What will happen when they break down and everyone owes money?”

“Look at all these people shopping with money they don’t have? Why don’t they quit?”

He said all this to the checkout clerk.

Every store owner’s dream is to have a customer yelling in the front of the store to quit spending money. Not. But the clerk handled him perfectly.  She acknowledged his concern and told him she wished they could talk more, but she needed to check out customers.  I felt more comfortable when he finally left the building.

“Peace on earth,” I told her. What a fantastic sales clerk.  Her eyes met mine, and she knew I got it too.

“Good will to men,” she answered.

“Are you sexist? Why didn’t you say good will to men AND women!” the woman in line behind me interjected.

The clerk continued working and answered her, “I mean good will to every man, woman, and child God put on the earth.”

What an answer. Once again, she perfectly handled an angry customer.

The clerk reminded me how important it is for us to share good will. And to remember the store clerks, often working for low wages, who deal a whole range of people and emotions every single hour they work on their feet. Some are so so. Others, like this lady, are exceptional.

They all deserve a dose of Christmas spirit during the busiest time of the year. Please, please make an extra effort to thank them and treat them well.

Your smile could be the only one they see for an entire hour or a whole day.

Share a moment of peace in the checkout lane.

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