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The Gift of the Carolers

I visit Norma periodically.  Norma lives with a variety of health problems, and together we get to enter the sacred ground of secrets from the past, crises in the present, and anxieties of the future.  We share, we pray, we laugh, we cry, we search Scripture, and we talk for hours.  I get to be her pastor, and that is a gift.

Norma has discovered that when you're sick, you're often alone.  Friends and family don't know what to say, so they say nothing.  They feel guilty that they cannot come around more often, so they don't come at all.  It's hard to love someone who's sick, and it's hard to be the someone who's sick and lonely.

But last week, some friends of mine, a small group at PCC's Westchester Campus, went caroling.  They asked for Norma's address; I asked Norma's permission to share her address; she agreed nervously; they knocked on lots of doors before actually finding Norma.  And then they sang to her and her husband.  

This is what Norma wrote about the experience:

"The Gift of the Carolers"

The doorbell rang at 8:30 pm on a dark December night as I was relaxing with my husband watching yet another rerun of "The Waltons."  My husband headed to the door, because he was still dressed while I in my gown and robe retreated for the bedroom.  Then my husband said, "I bet it's the carolers our pastor said would like to visit us this Christmas season."
Upon hearing this, I turned, robe and all, no longer concerned about my appearance, to head where my husband was now opening the front door.  As the door opened, the singing began.  He was correct in his assumption.  It was not a large group, but strong in voice they were.  Hiding half behind the wall to disguise my attire, I could immediately feel the emotions stirring inside me as I looked into their faces singing carols that I had once sung when I was young and on the same type of missions.  I immediately knew the significance of my position in the gathering at my front door.

It was surreal to be on this side of the door, having been a caroler myself so many years ago.  The fond memories flooded my head as I enjoyed the beautiful sound of Christmas carols being sung before me.  I had a longing to be standing there on my sidewalk with them, but my heart defects and cancer have altered my ability to participate.  I breathed in the essence of familiarity with lights behind held in the dark, for the song books and voices rising in song, and it overwhelmed me with a peace and joy of a time gone by.  The sound of their voices and smiling faces warmed me inside.

I realized at that moment that I had now become the recipient of this loving and compassionate tradition.  That simple kindness helped me that night to better understand and accept my current position in my journey of life.  With so many things in my life having come full circle, I see the beauty that can be found even in my struggles when something so compassionate and supportive as that night came about in the shadows of these illnesses.  If we trust in God's love no matter where we are in life and no matter how difficult it can be at times, he will still bring beautiful things into our lives when we need them the most.  I felt blessed in understanding that I have experienced both the joy of having been able to bless someone with this gift, and many years later, to receive that same gift.

With both a smile on my face and a tear in my eye, I had grown that night in seeing how deep the roots of kindness can run.  I thanked God for the clarity to see the beauty in the symphony of love in the giving and receiving of the songs sung on that cold winter night, standing now on the other side of the door.

Norma J.


  1. Beautiful.
    (sniff sniff. please pass me a kleenex.)

  2. I love her...and the wonderful PCC people who sang to her. I'm grateful (and crying, too).


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