(Dec. 3, 2022) — Hope
The sounding of the hour from Big Ben echoed across London as the lamplighters plied their trade in the glow of the setting sun. The younger men raced through the streets, making bets with each other on who could be done faster, while the older men struggled with the advancing cold weather that stiffened their knees.
Phineas was neither young nor old, but he went about his work slower these last few weeks, since his little Cordelia had been taken by the angels to be with her mother. He still fancied he felt her tiny hand slip into his own on the way home as she happily told him that she sold her entire inventory of matches. Her blue eyes shone as they looked up at him and she declared that, together, he and she were bringing light to their city.
Now the church bells rang the call to evening service, the first Sunday of December. Phineas stopped at the lamppost outside of one house in particular. He had never taken the time to notice before, but the night after his daughter’s passing, the sight of a little girl, with blonde curls and large blue eyes, sitting at a piano by the window in this upper class home, caught his attention. She had looked up and given him a vigorous wave and a smile. He found comfort in his new little friend, even if they must be separated by their social classes.
Climbing up to the lamp, Phineas stayed atop his ladder and gazed at the upstairs window where he could see the child resting on a pillow. Weakly, she smiled and waved. The grieving father felt a lump in his throat. It was hard to see a sick little girl so like his own, aside from the curls and silken bows. He forced a smile as he pulled a clumsily pieced-together wreath of evergreen scraps and arranged it inside the lamp. Taking a stub of a candle from his pocket, he carefully placed it in the wreath and lit the worn wick. Looking back to the girl, he noted her nodding with interest. He whispered, “A bit of hope for you, child, on this first day of Advent!”