tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the
there is a veil covering the unseen world which not
the strongest man,
nor even the united strength of all
the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.
fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that
picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it
in all this world there is nothing else real and
Christmas and happy holidays! I hope you all have an
absolutely wonderful one and blessed time!
This story is unlike
what I've done for the past several years. There's no
big, crazy Dyeland party scene. The allusions to
beloved holidays tales and movies are few. To be
honest, I was dreading writing this year's Christmas
story. Looking back on last year's... it's hard not to
feel eery about it. It focused so much on Andrew
growing older and he and his friends being together in the
years ahead. I could never have imagined while writing
it that only a few short weeks later, John would leave
us. So I wasn't really looking forward to going back
to the Willowveil ballroom and having Andrew and Co. merrily
deck their tree and LJA saying adoring things about a
graying, aging Andrew. I spose I was jealous of them
having Heaven so near.
But Christmas, after
all, is about Heaven coming to Earth. It's about life
and light eternal. It's about Immanuel: God with
us. It's about the veil falling away. So I took
that message to heart.
Some of you may know
that I really love the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. One
of my favorite moments comes in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I think Lucy perfectly
expresses the longing I feel and have felt especially
strongly since John went Home:
"'Oh, Aslan,' said Lucy. 'Will you tell us how to
get into your country from our world?'
shall be telling you all the time,' said Aslan. 'But I will
not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it
lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the
great Bridge Builder.'"
As we come upon our
first Christmas since John's passing, the only story I could
bring myself to write was a story of the Bridge
Builder. John is not gone. He's only gone across
the bridge... a bridge that began to be built when Love came
God bless you all,
"Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine."
~~ Christina Rossetti
The black and white bells finished tolling and It's a Wonderful Life
came to an end. With a contented smile, Andrew reached for
the remote and turned the TV off.
JenniAnn sighed happily. "Still just as good as the
very first time I saw it. I just wish Shelby coulda seen
the end. I think she was really enjoying it." She
smiled at the girl who had drifted to sleep with her head
nestled against Andrew's shoulder.
"Oh, something tells me she'll have plenty of chances to see
it in its entirety," the angel whispered. "You only watch
it at least twice every year," he teased.
JenniAnn's face contorted into a dramatic pout. "And
you have a problem with that?"
Andrew chuckled as quietly as he could manage. "No
problem at all. And one of these years I'm going to get
you to do the Charleston with me. It doesn't even have to
be by a pool."
The woman smiled. "As much as I'd love to... I just
envision that ending with you having bruised shins."
"I've got tough shins." The angel shrugged.
"Shins of steel."
JenniAnn burst out laughing causing Shelby to stir.
"I'll carry her upstairs before we irresponsible adults wake
her up," Andrew jested, gently scooping the sleeping child up.
The levity in JenniAnn's eyes gave way to misty nostalgia as
she followed the angel out of the living room and up the
stairs. "It wasn't so long ago I could carry her...
Do you remember how tiny she was that first Christmas with
us? I-I could balance her on my hip and she felt like
nothing at all."
Andrew was silent but softly kissed Shelby's curls as he
remembered the tiny toddler she had been. After a few more
paces, he entered the guest room where Shelby slept when she
stayed over at Willowveil.
JenniAnn quickly turned down the bedding then watched as the
angel tucked the seven year old in. She felt her heart
melt still more than it had during the film when Andrew bowed
his head and prayed over the child. Once they'd both
whispered their good nights, they closed the door and returned
to the hallway.
Andrew hugged his emotional friend. "I have a feeling
Shelby's gonna be the kinda kid who isn't too anxious to be a
"Yeah, you're right. I'm sure of it." JenniAnn
beamed up at the angel. "So where to now? Do you
have an assignment? Going Home?"
"Actually..." Andrew took a step back in order to better
gauge the woman's reaction. "I was just going to go to my
workshop and try to get started on the ornament."
The smile melted from JenniAnn's face and was replaced by a
look that mixed sadness and immense tenderness. She knew
exactly what ornament it was that Andrew planned to work
on. For years now the ever-growing group of
friends had gathered together to deck the giant tree that stood
in Willowveil ballroom. The ornaments hanging from the
boughs each had significance. Most represented the people
themselves. Others represented highlights from their time
together. There was an ornament to commemorate the
Caribbean cruise many of them had shared. There was
another to mark the 10th anniversary of Andrew's arrival in
Dyeland. Bulbs covered with photos of the friends during
more mundane occurrences were there by the dozens. Births
were marked by plaster hand and foot prints made by
infants. Lastly, there were the ornaments that were hung
in remembrance of loved ones who had gone Home: Vincent's
parents, JenniAnn's great-aunt, Josef's beloved, assignments
much loved by the angels.
The ornament in question was of the latter
sort. It was John's ornament. For weeks the
necessity of creating the ornament had come up again and
again. While JenniAnn and the other women all
felt very strongly that John deserved to be honored in
their customary way, there was still a pervading sadness that
prevented them from beginning the work. At last, Andrew
had volunteered to take on the task. There had been some
argument. The women had insisted that the angel had
already done so much. But there had been something in his
eyes... something in the way he spoke of the task at hand that
soon silenced their protests.
"All right," JenniAnn finally responded. "But just
don't..." She became intently interested in a piece of
lint on her sweater.
"Don't what?" Andrew prodded gently.
"It's just... you know how you get."
Andrew's eye brow arched. "How I get?"
JenniAnn forced herself to look up at the angel. "When
you feel strongly about something... well, sometimes you can be
a lil hard on yourself and too demanding and... well, it's why I
always said George Bailey reminds me of you. When he
couldn't fix everything for everyone he turned on himself
"John deserves the best," the angel interjected.
"Yes, of course he does. I'm just saying..."
"Just saying you'll be over to check on me in an
hour?" Andrew smiled tenderly though with a humorous glint
in his eyes. "Make sure I'm not bullying myself?"
JenniAnn blushed. It was sometimes awkward to realize
just how much Andrew could intuit. "Well, I did intend to
although I'd no plans to say it in advance... but, yes, I think
that might be a good idea."
Andrew hugged the woman. "I'll see you in an hour,
"See you," JenniAnn echoed as he headed towards the
stairs. She watched him walk down them... already looking
determined and pensive.
An hour later, JenniAnn tread softly as she entered Andrew's
workshop. She hung back near the door, observing the
angel. He was bent over his work table, flipping a piece
of wood in his hands. He raised his hammer for a moment
then replaced it on the table. Finally, he set the plank
down and began to draw furiously on a pad of paper.
Watching him, the woman blinked back tears. Despite
her admonition, it was obvious Andrew was struggling to create
the ornament. While JenniAnn knew the angel had long
been something of a perfectionist, this level of
determination was new. He had changed in the past
year. It was as if, while remaining every bit the angel
he'd always been, Andrew had somehow become more human.
Only recently had JenniAnn clued into what exactly made Andrew
seem more akin to herself and the others. He was embarking
on the very human reality of living not only his own life but
trying also to live the life of another, to do John's living for
him. At that moment, the angel of death seemed to be
operating under the assumption living that life meant giving his
friends something to help them heal.
Still oblivious to his company, Andrew dragged his hand through
his hair in frustration, set down his pencil, collapsed onto his
work bench, and rested his head in his hands.
JenniAnn stepped forward. She set the basket and baby
monitor she was carrying on a table and took a seat beside
Andrew, embracing him.
Andrew smiled sheepishly at her. "You know me too
well. I just... I thought it would be easiest for me," he
explained. "I mean... you know... I can get to
Heaven. But... I hadn't counted on all these
feelings. I didn't realize how nothing... nothing I think
of even begins to measure up to... to express all that John
meant to us. All he means to us now. And then trying
to think of what would help everyone..."
"Andrew, whatever you come up with is going to be wonderful
and special," his friend assured. "And it will help us
simply to have this way to remember John, to make him part of
our Christmas. I know you'll do fine!"
Andrew forced a smile. "Your trust in me means a lot,
Laja. It does. But I just... I want to be able
to look at this and feel like it expresses all the appreciation
and gratitude and love we feel towards John. And so far...
not doing so great."
JenniAnn stood and surveyed Andrew's drawings. There
were at least a dozen. "Andrew, these are all beautiful,"
she commended. "Any one of them would be fitting."
Andrew moved to his feet and shrugged. "Thank
you. I'm just not feeling what I thought I'd feel when I
found the right design. Nothing seems big enough or
"It's after midnight. You've been on assignments
almost constantly this month. Why don't you just try to
sleep for a bit, Andrew? Or at least go relax. You
can work on this tomorrow. It might even come easier to
you with a little sleep."
"I know I should wait but I just feel like tonight... I need
JenniAnn sighed, recognizing defeat, and reclaimed her spot
on the bench. "Do you want me to stay with you? I
brought the monitor so I can hear Shelby if she needs anything."
"Laja, I really appreciate your checking on me and bringing
whatever it is that's in that basket that smells so
great." Andrew glanced at the table with a flicker of
eagerness as he sat beside JenniAnn.
"Gingerbread coffee and spice cake."
The angel squeezed her hand. "Thank you. And if
you're... I mean if you're having a bad night and want to stay
JenniAnn could tell that while Andrew wasn't willing to kick
her out, he did seem to want to be alone. "I'll go back to
my place." She hugged him tightly. "But please take
care of yourself."
"If nothing comes to me in another hour, I promise you I'll
get some sleep," Andrew vowed. "Rest well, Laja.
"I'll pray for you," JenniAnn promised. "G'night,
Andrew." She stood, kissed the angel's hair, and left.
Andrew drew in a steadying breath. He fumbled with his
tools for a couple of minutes. He brushed away chips of
wood. Then he looked back to his drawings. They
remained wholly disappointing. "How do you commemorate
someone who is responsible for some of the best parts of your
life?" he murmured.
"I think you've made a good start on your selection of
materials, Andrew. I always did like things made of
wood. And it's a perfect choice for John: rooted to the
earth, reaching up to the heavens."
Andrew nearly fell off his bench when he spun around to see
who had spoken. The intruder's back was to him and all
Andrew could make out were dark blue jeans, a hunter green
sweater, and a ponytail of thick, wavy black hair. And
yet... The angel felt no fear. Only hope.
Hope that this man was indeed...
The visitor turned to reveal a warm smile set in a deeply
tan, bearded face and eyes that would forever signify one thing
to Andrew: Love. "What I would have done with one of
these..." he mused as he tilted his head towards a circular saw.
"J-joshua!" Andrew cried. "What are you doing
here? I mean... of course you're welcome but..."
Joshua grinned. "I'll let you in on a little secret:
sometimes I like to wander around on Christmas, take in the
decorations. I saw a bank with a neon baby me on its
roof. Stable and all. But half of the donkey was
out. He's fine now."
Andrew continued to gape. He didn't know whether he
was more shocked by Joshua casually showing up in his workshop
or walking around the roof of a bank fixing Christmas
lights. Not knowing how to respond, he simply started
"Well, that's promising! You know, I can still
remember the first time you laughed, Andrew. I loved it
then, I love it now."
The angel smiled, touched by Joshua's words. "Thank
you. So... you went to Earth to scope out Christmas lights
and then... you came here to hear me laugh? I mean... you
Joshua nodded. "Yes. I'm always with you,
Andrew. But tonight calls for some special
intervention. See, I'd just finished with the donkey when
I heard them: a bunch of your friends. Praying that you
wouldn't overdo it, hoping that you'd know that whatever you
come up with will be treasured."
When Joshua had finished speaking, the room resounded with
voices... voices Andrew recognized.
"Dear Lord, please guide Andrew's hands tonight. And
help him to know that we trust him, that anything he creates
will be wonderful... cause he is and so is his inspiration."
"Just keep him from stressing out too much. You know
how he is. You created him! Calm him down, Jesus,
"Oh Father... You know I... I love him.
And I can tell Andrew's already putting too much pressure on
himself. I know You don't want that! Nor would
Andrew blushed but looked lovingly over at a photo of his
Joshua smiled. "You know how it is: 'Where two or
three are gathered in My name...' So I'm here. Let's
work on this together." The carpenter approached Andrew's
bench and looked down at the drawings.
"Why not this one?" he asked.
"At first I thought a heart made sense because we all love
John very much. And he carried a message of love to the
world," Andrew explained. "But then... it just didn't seem
right. It looks like a valentine."
Joshua flipped to the next.
"A star. Because he is one. I mean not just in
the Hollywood sense humans have latched onto. But like a
real star, giving light and beauty and guidance. But it
would blend in too much with the other stars on the tree."
Joshua remained silent and merely set that sheet on the
bottom of the pile.
"His initials. Too impersonal. And then I tried
some sort of abstract thing..." Andrew wrinkled his nose
at one drawing. "And the rest are just variations on those
first three ideas."
"So what is it you most want to express, Andrew?"
"Gratitude. Love. Respect. With only a few
exceptions; every friendship, every relationship... they all can
be traced back to John either by their origin or by their
longevity. None of the girls would know each other without
him. JenniAnn and I probably wouldn't be on speaking
terms... assuming we'd even met which we might not have.
None of us would have anything to do with the Tunnels.
Owen might have died. I doubt we'd know Mick, Josef,
Beth... Mick and Beth probably wouldn't be getting
married. Vincent and Catherine might never have.
Jacob may never have been found. I wouldn't be a
supervisor. Whole lives hinge on the work... the life of
this one man. How can a single ornament ever possibly pay
tribute to him? How can it say everything they never got a
chance to say? How can it help my friends continue to
heal? Sometimes their feeling of loss is still so intense,
Joshua!" Tears were forming in Andrew's eyes as he thought
of his friends' grief.
Joshua's own eyes misted over but he smiled softly.
"It's the hardest part of being human. When Abi died, I
felt... unmoored. This was the man who raised me.
Who kept my Ama and me safe. Who taught me his own
trade. Who comforted me when I had nightmares. Who
taught me about Abraham, about Moses. About our
Father. I felt like there wasn't a single part of my life
that didn't come back to Abi. And I was a teenager when he
died. With a lot left unsaid. So I got it in my head
that I would build a box... just as he taught me to do.
And into that box I placed reminders of my Abi. Each time
I added something, I prayed that he would know how grateful I
was, how much I loved him. The box wouldn't have impressed
anyone. My carpentry skills were still a little
rough. And who would have seen much value in a bent nail
or a pebble from the river where we'd stop when we journeyed
back from Sepphoris? But it helped me. And when Ama
found it after I'd gone back Home... it helped her, too.
She kept adding to it. For both her Yosef and for me."
Andrew brushed at a tear. "That's beautiful. I
never knew about your box."
"Thank you. I'm telling you this now for a
reason. Andrew, there isn't a single ornament you can
design that will capture all John was and continues to be to
everyone. No more than I could settle on a single
expression of love for Abi nor my Ama of me."
Andrew nodded, his eyes wide as an idea began to
formulate. "So I need a box... Like yours. But
big enough so that everyone could put something in it. But
then how would it hang from the tree? No... what about
multiple boxes? Strung together because John brought us
all together..." The angel grabbed some paper and began
drawing. "More like garland than a single ornament... but
the tree decorating is tomorrow night and how can I make so many
with so little..." Hearing an odd clunk, he paused to
glance over at his guest.
Joshua had begun to unroll an ancient looking bit of cloth
that had appeared before him on the table.
Andrew's eyes lit up when several well-worn woodworking
tools were revealed.
"Let's help ourselves to some coffee and cake then get to
work," Joshua suggested with a smile that illuminated his
Overcome with relief and love, Andrew hugged the man.
"I'm so glad you're here."
Joshua patted the angel's back. "I am, too. But
never forget, Andrew. I'm always with you. Always."
The angel nodded enthusiastically, his spirit and soul
strengthening at the reminder.
was secure in its stand. The last strand of lights was
strung and illuminated. The crowd in Willowveil ballroom
all stared, admiring its unfinished beauty but also feeling an
abundance of emotions.
When word had spread that John was to be honored that
Christmas, several former Dyelanders had returned along with
friends who, though not residents, cared about the place and
the one who had brought so many people there. Each
individual held small bags or boxes or had items tucked into
their pockets. Andrew had requested that they all bring
some symbol of what John meant to them. Now he was about
to reveal the reason behind his request.
The angel of death made his way to the front of the group,
standing behind a table littered with ornaments and one large
box. He looked out at his friends and smiled, tears
already forming in his eyes. "So... well, it wasn't long
after I started this that I realized it was probably going to
be impossible to create something that showed everything John
meant to all of us. Just look around you. Look at
your friends. In most cases you probably
wouldn't know them if not for him, would you?"
The crowd did as Andrew asked. They smiled at those
around them, feeling humbled and grateful.
"I didn't know... I mean I couldn't figure out how a single
ornament could appropriately honor the man who, really, binds
us all together. So I didn't create an ornament."
Everyone looked at Andrew in surprise.
He began to open the box. "I made something else.
Sometimes even angels need a little divine inspiration and
help and last night... well, this morning I guess it was... I
Every man, woman, and child watched as Andrew pulled out a
lengthy string of finely carved wooden spheres strung together
by thick golden thread.
"These are actually small boxes that open and
there's one for everyone. And we can always
add onto it. John brought us together. He kept us
together. We honor him together," Andrew managed as
thankful tears rolled down his cheeks. "Please, come up
and add what you've brought. If you'd like to, you can
say why you chose what you did."
Sensing that everyone was nervous to be the first, Adam
approached. He pulled his memento from his pocket: a
mirror. Smiling at the others, he spoke. "I chose
a mirror because even though I've been at this angel of death
gig for a long time, I feel like I learned a lot from
John. It's easy for Andrew, Henry, Eli, and me to tell
people about Heaven. We've seen it. We've spent
eternity there. But John... he spoke about it with just
as much passion and just as much assurance as we do... but all
simply from faith. So whenever I get discouraged I think
about that. I think about the fact that there existed a
man who knew about the pain, sorrow, and cruelty in life but
could still speak about God's love and about Life on the other
side. And so I do my best to mirror John. I always
Adam placed the mirror in a sphere then went back to his spot,
touching Vincent on his shoulder as they passed.
"I chose an apple to represent the respect I feel for Mr.
Dye. As a teacher, I recognize how powerful and valuable
the lessons we pass onto our children are. John taught
many lessons both with his life and with his work. He
taught us about faith, about compassion, about commitment to
what is right. He taught us about love. I have
seen the impact of his lessons in the lives of my godchild, my
sister, and my friends." Vincent smiled at JenniAnn,
Yva, and the others. "Catherine and I look forward to
our Jacob learning from John, as well. He was a superb
The man placed the apple in the box Andrew handed to him,
reverently closed it, and returned to his wife and child.
Rebecca took Vincent's spot near Andrew. She carefully
removed tissue paper from the item she was holding then held
up a ceramic dove with a peace sign clutched in its
beak. "John was such a loving person... like a
dove. And he was always a proponent of peace,
recognizing that we need more of it in this world and doing
his part to bring peace to others. So when I saw this...
I thought of him."
Andrew hugged her as she added her dove to the garland.
Nigel approached the table once Rebecca had rejoined the
crowd. "I have had the privilege, thanks to Yva, to have
seen some of Mr. Dye's work. Among my most favorite of
his productions was the Touched
by an Angel episode 'Beautiful Dreamer.' In the
story the characters ponder what it is that comprises being a
hero. Is it someone who reacts in haste or someone whose
words can empower and inspire? It seems to me a hero is
most assuredly of the latter category. Is that not what
John did in life, inspire and bring out the best in
others? Thus, in honor of his words of inspiration and
love, I have chosen a quill and scroll. My sincerest
thanks, Mr. Dye."
As soon as Nigel had made his contribution, Yva followed him
with Willy at her side. Though there were tears in her
eyes, she smiled as she held out a small pair of wings and
spoke. "I chose wings because I feel it so necessary to
find the courage to break free from the dramas and control in
one’s life. This is something that I have dealt with to some
extent. And so often it was John's words who encouraged
me to break away... and to fly to freedom. He gave us
all wings, didn't he?"
The crowd all murmured assent, many of them thinking about
examples in their own lives of how the man they were honoring
had given them the strength to be free... free as God had made
them to be.
Willy remained at Yva's side as he presented his own ornament:
a teaspoon. "As a candy maker," he began, "I know it
takes a good deal of exact measuring to create anything.
But the reason I chose this teaspoon goes a bit deeper.
We are all parts or pieces and without one, then we would not
be complete or a part of a whole. If one
ingredient is missing then the recipe will not work, and if
one role that John played were to have been missing, then it
would not measure to the person that he was. He had to
play each of the roles he played so that the end effect would
be the person he was. If one role goes ignored, then the
impact would not be the same."
Together, Yva and Willy placed their ornaments in the boxes
Andrew held before returning to their spots in the ballroom.
The crowd looked on with some surprise as Violeta, Andrew's
new protege, made her way to her supervisor. From her
elegant handbag, she pulled a simple clay footprint
ornament. Everyone was surprised that the usually poised
and prim angel seemed to be shaking a bit. Andrew
promptly settled an arm around her shoulders and whispered
something in her ear which caused her to smile. Violeta
drew in a deep breath then gazed out at the crowd. "I
know I'm still rather new to your group but when Andrew told
me about this... well, I hoped it would be all right with
everyone if I added something. Back when I first met
Andrew, I told him I'd chosen him as my supervisor because I
was impressed by the friendships he had with each of
you. And that was true. But it wasn't the whole
truth. I also... in Andrew's file... saw a note.
'See Dye, John Carroll-Portrayer' A-and even though it
wasn't really my job to be looking through humans' files... I
did. And I saw the work Mr. Dye had done. And
watching the show... that's when I really knew I wanted to
work among humans. I wanted to be like him. I
wanted to follow in his footsteps. I know I'm not as
friendly and gentle and... and warm as he is but I want to try
The entire crowd stared at the angel, moved by the
uncharacteristic tear rolling down her cheek, as she placed
the footprint into one of the orbs and for the briefest moment
looked to the heavens before stepping away.
When Lady Beth's turn came she cradled a small, sparkling
white rock in her hands. "Along with everything else he
gave us, John always seemed stable and grounded. Someone
to be counted on. Someone who was always there. A
rock to lean on. And we did. We do."
After Lady Beth's rock was enclosed, JenniAnn made her way to
the table. The two women embraced as they passed each
JenniAnn removed three tiny silk daffodils from a bag.
"I chose three daffodils. Three because the number
always reminded me of John but also to represent the past, the
present, and the future. Because I know he's with us in
them all. And daffodils because they represent love...
love that maybe never got expressed but was still deeply felt
and..." She took Andrew's offered hand as her voice
began to quake. "And also eternal life. Daffodils
are among the first to blossom after winter. They are a
reminder of life eternal... the life John spent so much time
telling us about."
Once JenniAnn had added her flowers to the strand, she was
replaced by Cindy. "I chose this cross here... with a
nativity scene covering it. After John's death, he
pointed me back to Jesus. And I'm real grateful to him
for that." She smiled tearfully, gladly claimed a hug
from Andrew, placed the cross in the box, and closed it.
Owen followed. Cupped in his hands was a tiny red and
black bear. The man swiped at some tears but smiled out
at the crowd. "So a few years back my parents refused to
let me come home for Christmas. Not long after that,
JenniAnn invited me over to watch Mother, Mother
and 'The Violin Lesson.' And seeing those... seeing this
man with an obviously strong moral compass portray a gay man
and then, as an angel, insist that we be treated with
dignity... that we are loved by God... that there's a place in
Heaven for us... Those messages were the best Christmas
present anyone ever got me. And I thank John for them
from the bottom of my heart."
Andrew patted Owen's back as the man shakily placed the
vibrant bear in his box before returning to JenniAnn's side.
The angel of death stood beside person after person as they
added their symbols, offering a hug or a hand to hold when
needed. He helped the children to open and close their
boxes, touched to see that John's dream had come true: he had
taught countless children about God. Finally, there was
only one box left.
Andrew stood alone behind the table as he withdrew what
appeared to be a folded piece of paper from his pocket.
He closed his eyes in silent prayer, thanking God for the help
and for the life they all celebrated. When he opened his
eyes, he unfolded the paper. "I'm thankful to John for
so many things. As Adam said, he made the lives of us
angels of death a whole lot easier. I've lost count of
the times an assignment has said to me 'You're like that nice
young man on TV!' That's always much nicer to hear than,
you know, a scream." The angel smiled as the group let
out needed laughs. "I'm grateful to him for delivering
the message of God's love. I respect him so much for
promoting tolerance and responsibility. But the thing
I'm most thankful for is this." He held the paper out,
revealing that it was a group photo from Thanksgiving.
"As I said before, we are all here... we are all friends...
because of him. And I will live my whole life thanking
him for that. John, thank you."
With that the last box was filled and a group hug ensued...
perhaps the best and truest testimony to what John had done
for them all.
The Dyeland Christmas tree gleamed and sparkled in the
starlight coming in from the massive windows. The
ballroom had cleared out and was silent except for the muffled
cries of glee coming from the snow-drenched crowd in the front
yard. Only Fawn and Lulu, by now too exhausted from all
the excitement of decorating and dinner to do any more than
curl up on a settee, witnessed the miracle as the veil between
Heaven and Earth evaporated.
A robed figure appeared in the entryway. His dark hair
hung loose though partly hidden by his red mantle. He
gently stroked the dogs' heads as he passed by them and
approached the tree. Joshua smiled as he took in the
string of wooden spheres circling around the tree. He
knew what each contained, he knew the memories and emotion
behind each symbol. It was these he had come to
collect. A wooden box appeared in his hands, the very
hands that had crafted it. Etched into the wood were
symbols of Joshua's own choosing, symbols tied to events in
the life of the recipient that only he and Joshua
shared. Joshua opened the box and gazed up at the
tree. Beams of golden light shot from each sphere.
The very essence of the mirror, apple, dove, quill and scroll,
wings, teaspoon, footprint, rock, daffodils, cross, bear, the
photograph and all the rest along with all the love the people
who had chosen them felt for John glided into Joshua's
box. The box became illumined and shone like gold.
When all the light had gone into the box, Joshua closed
it. He hugged it to his chest then approached one of the
windows, setting a hand on the pane. He smiled when he
saw his children, angel and human, dashing around the yard
laughing, throwing snowballs, and enjoying their time
Joshua began to speak, knowing he wouldn't be heard audibly
but hoping their spirits would hear. "I love you.
Remember that. And remember in my Father's house there
are many, many rooms. I know just which one this goes
to. I'll take this to John. I promise. Be at
The room became empty once more, looking exactly as it had
before Joshua's arrival.
The next day, during clean-up, Lady Beth pointed out the hand
print on the window. Everyone commented on it, each
saying they would make sure it got wiped away once they'd
finished with the task at hand. And yet as each
approached they found they didn't want to remove it.
They felt an inexplicable sense of peace when they looked upon
it. No one said anything, each thinking it would seem
foolish to be sentimental over a hand print of unknown
origins. And so the hand print remained. Days
would go by before they realized the mark was not a smudge nor
an effect of the frost but actually etched into the
glass. A mystery. No one knew that it had been
left by the One whose birth they celebrated, the One who had
carried a box filled with love to His Home. A box that,
when Christmas dawned, rested in the hands of the man for whom
it had been created, a Christmas gift from Earth to Heaven,
from one side to the Other side.
May God's peace be with you now and forever more.
This newsletter is
dedicated simply to John: to all he was, to all he did,
and to all he is now that we will one day see again when
we, too, move from this side to the Other. May God's
peace and love be with his family, his friends, and all of
us who love him. Merry Christmas, John.
(Photo Credits: The photograph used on this page is from
"Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline
Productions, and Moon Water Productions. It is not being
used to seek profit.)