Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hallelujah

I'm continuing to experiment in this new mixed-media (karaoke track + essay) thing. I know it needs work (I need to learn Audacity and get a better microphone), but here's the latest karaokessay...








The little boy and his mother walked out of the church and sat down on the steps. It was almost 7:00 at night, so the church’s food pantry was closed. It was two days before Christmas, and they’d been on the street for more than a week now. They didn’t have anything to eat.

They closed their eyes to pray together, and when they opened them, the little boy and his mother saw three young people walking toward them, each carrying a neatly wrapped present. She didn’t have the heart to make one more request for help, but it turned out she didn’t need to.

The three kids were on their way to their family’s big Christmas party, and Momma never let anyone in unless they brought a guest. They’d been looking for someone to invite all day, and they decided to invite these two strangers to come along. As they all walked the short distance to Momma’s house, they sang.

****

When they arrived, the party was already in full swing, and the little boy couldn’t believe his eyes. Tables and tables of food all around the house, just waiting to be devoured. He looked up at his mother, who was working hard to contain her awe at the spread before them: meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables, casseroles and pasta dishes and desserts.

As they were introduced around to dozens of family members and their guests, Momma noticed that the little boy and his mother were especially hungry. So, even though three cousins, an uncle and two grandkids hadn’t made it yet, Momma suggested they gather and get started eating.

And in a beautiful chorus of harmonizing voices, together they shared grace, a song of praise to God.

****

After dinner, the kids gathered in the living room to dance and play and produce the talent show they’d perform later for the adults. The little boy’s mother busied herself with the pots and pans for a while and, when that was done, she dried her hands and found her way into the room where the adults were wrapping gifts.

While the little boy was enjoying himself singing Christmas carols and making parents’ presents with the others, his mother’s heart was heavy. She had nothing to give her boy this Christmas, nothing but all the love in her heart.

A pat on her shoulder startled her, and someone handed her a beautifully gift-wrapped present. And in neat handwriting, the tag proclaimed the gift to be TO: the little boy, FROM: his mother.

****

After the talent show and gift exchange, the little boy and his new friends continued their game of cops and robbers. His mother, overwhelmed at the generosity of this family of strangers, stepped onto the front porch for a breath of cool December air.

She had no idea what their future held, and she didn’t want to think about what would happen to her and her little boy when they walked out of this Norman Rockwell painting. But she realized, right then, all the things they had – and, most importantly, that they had each other.

She looked up into the stars and said another prayer. And as she offered thanks and opened herself to what might be next, she heard a choir of angels singing down to her.

****

When it was time, she collected her little boy and they said their goodbyes. They were unable to express their gratitude for such a wonderful evening, for the generosity Momma had shown in loading them up with leftovers – and even a bag of unopened groceries to help.

The little boy and his mother thanked their hosts. And Momma also thanked them for joining the family that evening. The little boy and his mother stepped out onto the front porch for the walk back to the shelter and saw that one of the uncles was waiting to drive them. They didn’t remember his name, but they remembered Momma joking with him about being late for dinner.

As the little boy and his mother got in the car, they could hear the love flowing out of Momma’s house – a love that could not be contained by four walls or by family ties.

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