A Christmas Story - a story of the Heart
This is a story of the heart.
A heart that feels deeply, loves deeply. And on this day it ached deeply.
We were approaching Christmas, the busy season of lists and shopping, and baking and decorating. I struggled to find the quiet times to soothe my heart, to listen to the longings.
I missed my children, far away, and longed for relationship with them. I packed bright cheery parcels and spent a fortune at the post office.
I missed my husband, now in heaven just two years, and the heart ache was real, the loneliness physical and heavy at times.
Oh, I could cover up well. I attended the office parties, attended the church choir concerts and pasted a smile that didn’t always go deep. People thought I was doing pretty well.
But one day the ache wouldn’t leave, causing pain to stretch down into my arms and around my back. It was hard to breathe.
Another panic attack, I thought. This was annoying, I should handle this better!
But the ache persisted, and finally I called a friend. Something is wrong, I admitted.
And so here I found myself, in the hospital, just before Christmas. Trees decorated in the hallways, Christmas music drifting out of speakers, but very much a hospital. IV poles and IV lines were part of my landscape, along with monitoring equipment, blinking like tired Christmas lights.
I was absorbing the news that my heart was in trouble. I’d need surgery. And I was afraid.
Where was my husband when I needed him? Would I be seeing him soon? What about my children, and the grandchildren I hoped to hold one day? The thoughts swirled unceasingly in my tired brain.
Christmas came, and the ward was quiet. I was alone, in my room.
And then the visitor came. She was a chaplain, she said.
She introduced herself and asked if she could give me an ornament, and held it out, shiny and red. I couldn’t believe it…It was in the shape of a heart.
I held the heart, its soft fabric in my hands. “It is a heart”, I said. And then I told her… “I’m waiting for heart surgery… and you brought a heart.” Tears came to my eyes.
The chaplain was amazed, for it was the only heart shaped ornament she had. And somehow, it was the one she had chosen to give.
She asked, could she pray for me? And in that moment, I knew that I was not forgotten. I knew my broken heart was noticed by God, who cared about my pain. “Yes”, I said, and I listened as we prayed for God to be with me as I waited for surgery, to be with the surgeons, to bring peace to my tired heart.
Christmas was different that year.
I received the gift of surgery with a heart beginning to heal.
But even more important, I received the gift of love and knowing that God was watching over me – as he guided someone to bring me a heart shaped ornament and pray – on a day when I needed it the most.