A lone thin outline of a man sat upon a rock under a black velvet sky. He cast an even thinner shadow against the flickering light of the campfire that burned before him. He wore a brown, cotton, loose fitting robe and old leathered sandals on his bare feet. His long hair hung loosely as he leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees and his hands cupped a golden goblet of red wine. His mind had drifted deep into thought when suddenly a soft breeze lifted his hair and flames suddenly danced in the campfire. He felt him before he saw him. Without lifting his head he said, "Welcome my friend, glad you could make it". He then raised his eyes from his goblet and looked directly over the fire across from him and smiled. A deep voice spoke from the dark shadows,"Happy to be here JC! I wouldn't miss this night for all the candy canes at the North Pole!" JC's friend Nick walked out from the darkness and stepped into the light of the campfire. JC smiled and said, " Cop-a-squat Nick, take a load off and join me old friend." "Think I will while I can! It's going to be a long night for sure." said Nick and then lowered himself onto a birch log and shifted his backside until he found just the right spot.
Nick's hands started patting his pockets then stopped and reached into one and pulled up his trusty black pipe. From nowhere appeared a match stick. Nick held the match stick up, eyed it, blew onto the match and it caught fire. While touching the flame to the pipe's bowl he hauled long and hard and with every puff the bowl would cast a warm red glow. Nick took several quick puffs sending little clouds of smoke up into the air then blew out the match and tossed it into the fire. His eyes shifted to JC who was again looking down into his goblet of wine. He took a long draw on his pipe and blew out another puff of smoke. He watched as it floated up into the night air and disappeared. His eyes took in the star filled sky above them, he then pulled the pipe from between his teeth and said, "That's one mess of stars up there. I never tire of the view of our universe. Just beautiful!" JC looked across the fire at his friend and smiled. Nick thought to himself that his friend JC seemed unusually down. "JC my friend, I sense some melancholy from you. Would I be wrong in my assumption?" Again JC looked deep into his goblet, his brow furrowed and he let out a long sigh.
JC looked at his old friend and asked, "How long have we known each other now Nick?" Nick's eyebrows rose, his eyes looked questioningly at JC and wondered where this was leading. He was very forthcoming with his reply and said, "In this the year of our Lord 2011, I'd say approximately 1612 years....give or take a year, but who's counting." JC took a sip of his wine and said, "Well, even though I'm not counting I do have a few years on you." "Yes you do." said Nick, he continued,"You pulling rank on me for something I'm unaware of???" JC replied, "Not at all Nick. I'm happy that you are here with me tonight."
JC turned his head and looked down through the blackness of space, past planets, moons, galaxies, nebula's and a trillion stars to the little blue and white orb suspended in amongst the constellations. Nick watched as it's reflection filled JC's eyes, and tears began to line his lower lids. And like the incoming tides of the oceans his eyes filled with tears giving the orb the appearance of a world under water. "It's my people Nick." he whispered. And like the gates of a dam opening and nothing to hold back the water his tears spilled over his lids and rolled down his cheeks.
"My heart is so full of pain...for them, for the children of God the Father. They know not what they do Nick. I work hard to remain in their hearts. I am still there, and always will be, but I'm buried so deeply under so much of the world that they are forgetting. Not all have forgotten and it's become a battle of epic proportions for those fighting to hold onto the rest. It's just...well, it's just that every year it gets worse. Some forbid others to publicly wish me a happy birthday. Most are not allowed to so much as utter Merry Christmas to each other." His gaze shifted back to Nick who had been sitting quietly, puffing on his pipe, intently watching and listening to JC.
Nick made no move to speak but continued to slowly send little white puffs of smoke up into the air. JC gazed down into his wine goblet and raised it taking another small sip. Nick quietly watched JC set his wine down and reached down next to the rock he sat on and picked up a birch log and layed it on top of the hot coals of the campfire. Tiny sprays of sparkling orange and white embers shot up, they hissed and crackled breaking the silence of the night.
Nick shifted his position on his log and gently set his pipe down beside him. He leaned forward and picked up a long branch and thoughtfully poked at the campfire. He stirred up the embers and more flames leapt to life. The glow from the campfire illuminated the two men, high above the earth, both very deep in thought.
Nick contemplated JC's concerns. He mulled it over in his mind. The fire popped and snapped as Nick shifted the log on the embers and sent up small plumes of smoke into the night air. Nick took in a deep breath and made a smacking sound with his lips while his free hand stroked his long white beard. His blue eyes looked at JC over the tops of the glasses perched on the end his nose.
"What you say is true JC. I agree with you that it is indeed a painful thing. This used to be the most joyous time of the year on Earth. It was always something that almost all of humanity shared in. Rejoiced in. Celebrated together. The whole world came together for that one day..humanity united. Do you remember JC the anticipation, the excitement of the people? How everyone was so happy, how they could barely contain their joy? All for the love of the birth of the baby Jesus...for the love of you JC."
"Yes this is all true Nick. But I didn't do it alone. What am I without them? What are they without me?? Remove my loving arms and I can no longer hold them in love...and I can no longer hold myself in love. We need each other.
It was through this love that you were created Nick. You were loved and wanted by me and God the father. You were blessed with an abundance of love for all living things and given the powers of miracles and the powers of healing. You touched the lives of children and sailors. Your greatest gifts were that of joy in the spirit of giving. Anytime you've touched the heart of a child you have instilled deep in them the most important and valuable gift of all and that is the gift of hope.
"You Nick, were the white shadow of my heart. To bring hope and love to everyone you touched. I was the Peace, you of the Earth, together, we were.... Peace on Earth. I have lain upon the face of every newborn babe since time began to give their souls everlasting life. Your spirit was created to renew that love and belief if just for one day of the year to re instill the belief of love and hope. To celebrate that love and hope! To cry out a Merry Christmas to one and to all! To prove to the child that he has just to ask and he will receive! And even though Nick you no longer walk the earth that the children for the most part are still asking and because you touched their parents as children they are carrying it through and their child receives! It isn't the skates or sleds they receive but it's the love it took to create that power to fulfill those wishes. The power of love. The power of giving. The asking, the giving, the receiving of gifts is in a language that children understand. They learn by example that to not only receive in love but to give in love as well, they learn that love comes in many forms.
Nick's stare was intense as he looked at JC and noticed how the light from the campfire had illuminated him in a red-orange glow. His face was flushed and an inner light seemed to shine from behind his eyes. Nick watched as JC looked into the fire and took a deep breath and slowly let it out. The flames of the campfire slowly licked softly upon itself and the silence of the night was broken by the crackle and soft hissing of the fire when Nick spoke.
"Giving has been my lot in life. To give in love has been the greatest of blessings bestowed upon me. It humbles me to think of how rich my spirit is because of these blessings." Nick lay down his stick, sat back, placed both his hands on his knees and turned his head and looked down through the black vastness of space until his eyes locked in on the little blue and white orb. He stared hard until he felt a deep ache in his heart and his blue eyes brightened with the threat of fresh tears. Breaking his eyes away he turned his head and looked back at JC.
" I too hear the cries of those struggling to hold on. Those that hold tight will never let go JC." he said in a reassuring voice." For them they will always cry out Merry Christmas!!! They will always exclaim and celebrate how this is your birthday! As for the others, how can they ever deny Christ in Christmas!! If they are not celebrating your birth and partaking in celebration then what are they celebrating?? Yes, yes, yes..I know what your thinking...all that pagan stuff. Well how about this...I don't believe in pagans? And while I'm on a roll what about your resurrection and the Easter Bunny? There doesn't seem to be any problems there...so far, but if I may be frank JC, I honestly don't see what a pink bunny carrying a basket of eggs has anything to do with you coming back from the dead!"
At that statement JC felt a smile start to spread across his face. He felt a rush of laughter pour over him. He leaned forward and grabbed his stomach and let out a long, loud laugh! Nick watched this with delight and the next thing he knew he had joined in with a loud resounding HO! HO! HO!. He grabbed his big round belly and it shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. All through space, the heavens above and below, their howls of laughter echoed, as far away as Pluto!
It took several minutes for them both to contain the belly aching laughs. JC leaned down and picked up the hem of his robe and brought the edge of it to his eyes and dabbed gently at the wetness he found there. He then dragged it down his cheeks and over his beard and soaked up the tears of joy. Nick sniffled hard, removed his glasses and dragged one of his big white furry sleeves across his eyes. They then both took big deep cleansing breaths, looked at each other and smiled.
Nick suddenly looked up over JC's head and smiled and nodded to JC to look up. JC leaned back a bit and looked up and eight miniature angels were hovering over his head. Their little wings fluttered softly as they smiled down at JC. JC smiled lovingly up at them. He then lowered his head and his eyes leveled with Nick's. He smiled and nodded his head at Nick. Nick smiled knowingly back at JC and nodded his head in return. Neither spoke. They knew that it was time.
The little angles flew over JC's head, lowered themselves before him and hovered, silently waiting. They watched as he raised his hands to his lips and kissed the inside of each one. When he opened his hands he layed them flat before the angels and gently blew against his palms sending out streams of colors of gold, white, yellow and green.
The angels opened their wings wide to receive the colors as they swirled and danced around them. The colors stretched, twisted and twirled in the air above and around the angels. They stretched high up in the sky spinning a kaleidoscope of colors. They climbed higher and higher into space and then came to a sudden stop. All was quiet. All was still.
Below, JC, Nick and the eight angels strained their necks and seemed to hold their breath in expectation. Then silently, with no sound at all, the colors slowly started to shift and took on the shape of luminescent waves. Ever so slowly the waves moved softly and fluidly against each other then began to blend together, no longer separate but one. They began to roll onto each other, over and over again until there were no individual trails of color, but a huge ball of gold and silver.
Then, it began to swell. Silently it grew and the more it grew the more it glowed in the darkness of space among the twinkling of the stars. Then, like a balloon stretched to it's limit the ball exploded and the colors became beautiful shimmering dust of gold, silver, yellow, white and green. It slowly floated down sprinkling everything in it's path.
It came to cover JC, Nick and the eight angels. The angels, as if drunk on pure joy began to laugh and swoop through the air diving to and fro. They shot straight up through space leaving vapor like trails behind them. JC and Nick, their eyes skyward, stood in awe as they watched the angels write Merry Christmas among the stars. The echo of their giggles sounded like the tinkle of tiny little bells.
Then all became quiet. Like little fireflies with their lamps turned off, one by one they lit up appearing before Nick. Softly, slowly and silently they flapped their little white wings and with every upswing of their feathers they sent up a cloud of small fine glittering diamonds that left a halo of shimmering light around each angel.
Nick smiled at the sight before him then bent and picked up his pipe from the log where he'd left it and slid it into a pocket and patted it there for safe keeping. He then straightened his hat. Twisted his belt into place. Dusted himself off and looked very much like a man ready for a mission.
He looked at the angels and nodded. The angels then lined up before him, two by two behind each other with their backs to Nick. The two front angels both softly shuddered and a beautiful deep red velvet rope grew from their wings and floated back along the outer angels. The end of the rope came to rest in Nick's white gloved hands. Nick held the rope loosely in his hands and straightened himself. With the heel of one boot he nudged the birch log he had been sitting on earlier. Slowly the log began to shift and change. It seemed to be melting and wavering. Then the color changed slowly to a brilliant red trimmed in gold. It stretched long and wide. Nick bent his legs, leaned back and beneath him appeared a beautiful seat lined in white fur. He sat back and rested his feet before him. Beneath him was a sleigh of ruby red and brilliant gold and oh how it sparkled!
Nick looked so grand in his bright red suit and snowy white beard. All the while JC had stood and watched the transformation. He thought to himself how Nick still had it and looked as fresh and as new as his first day on the job. Nick held the reins in one hand and with the other he adjusted his hat one last time. He then smoothed down his beard and tugged up one boot. Next he sat up straight and tall and picked up the red rope into both hands and held them straight out in front of himself. Then he paused.
He turned his head and his eyes met JC's. They looked at each other for a moment. JC broke the spell, "Nick, go with my blessings. Leave no heart unturned. Jump start the broken ones. For the lost ones, appeal to their inner child. The heart never forgets. Invade all hearts and leave them the greatest gift of all Nick. Fill their hearts with love, love for every living thing created under God The Father."
Nick felt his chest tighten and a lump form in his throat and his eyes burned bright with fresh tears. A small smile formed on his mouth. He looked at JC through watery blue eyes and said, "JC, I am your warrior and will fight for you for all eternity. I will forever pierce the hearts of all with your sword of love." It is my lot in time to give of this gift for every soul since the beginning of time." JC smiled back at his old friend, child and brother. He smiled and said, "My friend, you and I will always stand side by side, back to back, heart to heart and will never give up, not ever. We will forever be, Brothers In Arms. Godspeed to you on this nights journey. Oh, and Nick? Merry Christmas."
Nick smiled at JC. He then raised the red ropes up high, turned his head, looked at JC and said,"Happy Birthday JC."
JC watched as Nick and the sleigh shot off into space with 8 pinpoints of brilliant white light casting a beacon before them leading the way. JC stood there next to the campfire, a lone figure of a man and watched as Nick flew out of sight. He then turned, looked down through the black velvet of space, down past the planets, the moons, galaxies, nebula's and trillions of stars and constellations, until his eyes locked onto the little blue and white orb. A deep ache spread through his chest. Tears lined his lower lids. The planet reflected in his eyes. And like the incoming tides of the oceans his eyes filled with tears making the orb appear like a world under water. And like a dam who's gates had been opened and with nothing to hold back the water the tears spilled over and rolled down his cheeks. And he whispered...."Merry Christmas to all...and to all a good night."
Happy Birthday Jesus. Oh yes...and Merry Christmas Santa.
Until the next high tide.....