A CHRISTMAS BLESSING
The old woman had lived on the streets for many more years than she could remember. Her grey and white hair needed not only washing but also cutting. It now reached her lower back. She used what little water she had to drink and make soup and clean her hands and face. What wouldn’t she do to have a hot shower? She hated being dirty.
Her clothes were tattered and worn in many layers. This is the only way to keep anyone from stealing what few clothes she had. It also helped when the temperatures dropped.
She was stooped over as she pushed her shopping cart loaded down with cans, bottles and her few possessions to the corner store to turn in her collection for a few much needed dollars. Stu, the owner of the small store, accepted her load with a smile. He was one of the few people who actually looked her right in the eye and spoke to her in a kind soft voice. He was one of the angels who helped the homeless.
“Hi, Clara, how are you doing today? Looks like you’ve got yourself a good stash to exchange. Hmm, I think this load is worth about five bucks. What do you think?”
Clara smiled and nodded. She rarely spoke to anyone. Her smile was what she had left and she used it often at everyone she passed even if they did not reciprocate. She was fortunate to have a toothbrush and plenty of toothpaste, thanks to Stu, to keep her teeth looking good. Most of the homeless were nearly toothless.
Stu handed over five dollars, a new toothbrush, some carrots, oranges, apples and a package of hot dogs with buns. He worried about all the lost souls who wandered the neighborhood. He did what he could to help them. He had managed to get a few of them off the streets by finding jobs for them after he had gotten them cleaned up and presentable.
Clara gave her biggest, brightest smile to Stu and happily took all the groceries and money and stashed them deep inside her trash bags. She planned to make a soup with the hot dogs and carrots and share it with her fellow homeless under the bridge where they camped out.
Later that evening several of her friends gratefully ate the soup and hotdog buns and settled down for the night. Thanks and burps could be heard all around as Clara cleaned up her one pot and put out the fire she had made. She laid back on her trash bag that held her food and stuffed more newspapers under and around her to keep out the chill of the night. She looked out and away from the bridge and watched the stars as they appear to blink at her. Slowly her eyes closed and she was soon fast asleep.
One of the blinking stars began its descent toward Earth from its heavenly place. It grew larger as it came closer to the ground and out of the light stepped a beautiful woman with long white hair which reached down to her feet. With each sway of her head her hair shimmered like diamonds. She bent down over Clara, sat next to her and waited for her to wake up. She waited and waited but could not wait anymore. She gently touched Clara’s forehead with her cool hand and watched as Clara opened her eyes in amazement.
Clara was so shocked to see this beautiful apparition in front of her that she exclaimed in surprise, “Who are you? Where did you come from?” These were her first words in many years. They sounded a bit scratchy and squeaky to her own ears but the lady didn’t seem to notice.
“Hello Clara. How are you dear? I am called a name you wouldn’t be able to pronounce but you can call me Belinda. I have come a long way from here to bring you a message from Him.”
“A message from whom? Who’s Him?”
Belinda smiled showing off a magnificent set of teeth so white that Clara had to blink to keep from going blind.
“Oh dear, I am so sorry I forgot what my smile does to humans. I deeply apologize. Are you all right, Clara?”
“Huh, oh yes. I’m fine. But what did you need to tell me?” Clara was still feeling startled by this woman and her brilliantly white smile.
“Well, He has noticed your kindness to others in need even though you are needy yourself. You have been generous with what little you have. He wants to give you a gift that will help you. He has promised you a place if you use this gift until your time is over.”
Clara sat there stunned and couldn’t say a thing. What did all this mean? Was the He really God? Was this an angel sitting in front of her?
“Clara, did you understand what I said, dear?” Belinda touched Clara’s face with her cool hand to bring her around.
“Oh, yes, I think I understand. I am going to die soon and God wants me to do something for him.”
“Well, that is partly true, Clara. What He wants from you is for you to go to the hospital and bring this gift to the children to help them get well.”
“What is this gift? I will not be allowed to go into the hospital like this. They will kick me out.”
“Don’t worry, my dear. I will take care of that. Please stand in front of me. Hold your arms out to the sides and close your eyes.”
Clara got up slowly, arthritis keeping her from springing up, and did as Belinda had instructed. She could feel a wind around her and a warm feeling going into her joints loosening them up. She felt suddenly younger and stronger as the warmth diminished.
“You can open your eyes now, Clara. What do you see?”
Clara looked around and noticed that all her friends, fellow homeless, had on new clothes and sat eating at a table full of all kinds of delicious foods. They were chatting and smiling as they stuffed more food into their mouths oblivious of her or Belinda.
“Did you do all that?”
“Yes with His help I did. Now look down at yourself, Belinda.”
“Oh my, what? How? It’s beautiful!”
Clara stood tall without any aches or pains and wore a lovely dress and a shawl in a heavenly shade of blue. On her feet were short heels that were comfy and pretty at the same time. She twirled and danced around. Then her hands reached up to her hair. It was pinned up in a bun with some curls hanging on each side of her face and it smelled clean.
“Thank you so much, Belinda. I feel wonderful and so clean for the first time in a long time. What does He need me to do now?”
Belinda, put her hand over Clara’s heart and whispered, “Go to the children in the hospital nearby and bring them your smile and sing to them in your beautiful voice.”
Clara had once sang opera at all the opera houses in the country until she started drinking and taking drugs. She was soon dropped by each venue because she was loosing her voice due to neglect.
Clara shook her head at the angel. “No, I can’t sing anymore. I just started talking to you. I haven’t spoken to anyone else in years. I’m sorry, Belinda, I can’t do it.”
“Oh, dear Clara, but you can. Just try singing a little and you will see what I mean. How about if you sing, “Oh Holy Night?”
Clara cleared her throat which really was quite clear to begin with for the first time and opened her mouth to sing. What came out astounded her. It was more beautiful than she had ever sung before. He had given her back a gift more incredible than she could have imagined.
“Now dear, go on your way. There isn’t much time left. You must hurry it is almost Christmas.”
Clara rushed forward and a taxi came to stop in front of her with an open door. She got in and the door closed by itself. She began to tell the driver where to go but he waved her off and headed in the direction of the hospital.
There was a man outside the front door of the hospital who opened the door for her and directed her to the children’s ward. She moved in a stupor not believing what was happening. When she got to the ward the nurses were lined up as if they were waiting for her. The children were sitting in their beds, some connected to many tubes and machines, while others appeared to be asleep or in discomfort.
Clara stepped into the room, smiled at all the children and announced that she wanted to sing for them. As she began to sing the children sat up straighter and opened their eyes and gave Clara their rapt attention.
The nurses stood stunned by the beauty of this woman and her gorgeous voice who was not as young as she first appeared. Tears filled all the nurses’ eyes as they watched the children’s faces glowing as if stars were shining upon them. The ones that were sicker were now sitting up and clapping their hands while the others who were able got up from their beds and danced around.
Clara sang every song that the children requested and ended with “Oh Holy Night.” Everyone was silent as the last noted ended, then suddenly there was a cacophony of clapping that went on and on. Clara bowed and thanked the children and wished them all a Merry Christmas.
All the staff came around to congratulate Clara on her beautiful singing and escort her to the taxi that was waiting for her out front. She waved and smiled one more time, got into the cab, sat back and closed her eyes. Clara felt a feeling of floating and lightheadedness. When she opened her eyes, she was in a gorgeous room all covered in gold and jewels and there sitting on a wooden thrown was a man dressed in a brilliant white cloak. He reached out His hands to Clara and she ran to Him.
“Welcome, Clara. You are home!”
Thank you all for stopping by to read my story. This story came to me as I was getting ready to exercise on my elliptical machine. Once I began to write it down I couldn’t stop. After about for an hour it was completed. I felt as if something or someone compelled me to write it. It put joy into my heart. I hope you felt this joy too as you read it. It may go into a second collection of short stories sometime in the future.
I hope you enjoyed it and that it put you into the spirit of Christmas. Happy Reading! Reading is good for your health!
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Blessings of the seasons and love to all!