(Dec. 24, 2022) — [Editor’s Note: See the previous parts of this story here.]
“Together, we’re bringing light to our world, just like Christ did!”
Phineas could almost hear his little Cordelia’s voice as he lit the candle stub at the center of the wreath. The tears in his eyes caused the flames of the five candles to smear and blend together in his vision. Latching the glass of the lamp shut, he lifted his face to the dark windows before him. There was no sign of life from the house of his sick little friend.
Phineas walked the road home with slow steps. He wasn’t sure if he could take a Christmas Eve home alone. An icy breeze sent chills up his spine and the scent of the nearby river. The river. Somehow the gentleness of its running calmed him, and seemed to call out to him, even now. He had a sudden impulse to answer the call and find comfort and release from his pain in its depths.
A sudden peal of bells made him aware of his surroundings. Before him stood the stone structure of a church. The bells in its tower beckoned all within earshot to come and rejoice in the Saviour’s birth. Phineas watched the procession of the faithful as they streamed into the building, each carrying a candle. Cordelia’s words echoed in his head, “Together we’re bringing light to our world.”
Suddenly, his bare fingers felt a small gloved hand slip into his. Looking down, he saw the face of his little friend. Her blonde curls shone like sunlight bursting out of her bonnet. Her once pale cheeks were deep pink with life. Her large blue eyes shone brightly as she shyly smiled up at him. Phineas looked up to see her parents who stood at a distance, smiling at them and nodding with approval.
Turning his attention back to the little girl, he smiled at the lit candle she held up and offered him. Hesitantly, Phineas accepted the gift and let the child lead him into the house of God.