Friday, December 24, 2010

Messages turn tree into a beacon

Four dozen ornaments, hanging from a dogwood tree on a Myers Park front lawn.

Stars and snowflakes and colored balls.

On them, handwritten in marker, are messages.

Hope you have an awesome Christmas

We love you guys

They started appearing eight days before Christmas - first a few dangling from branches, then a few more. The owners of the tree were delighted to discover their front yard display. Then they went out for a closer look.

Peace, love and health to you

I love you so much and have been praying for your family

Last month, difficult news came to the house. A husband and father of two had advanced cancer.

Their friends and church family at Myers Park United Methodist have done what friends and family do, planning visits and organizing meals. A couple of those friends, during a walk in the neighborhood, wondered if they could do more. One remembered a family receiving a Christmas tree with paper hearts one holiday.

Why not decorate their real tree, in the front yard, with messages and Scripture?

"We thought this was a way people could reach out and lift them up throughout this journey," said one, Sarah McKinney.

They sent out an e-mail.

For with God, nothing will be impossible

The ornaments have come, two or three a day, with a small flurry of them on Christmas Eve. Sometimes they appear overnight. Sometimes they're being hung just as someone is going out for the mail.

The illness is still new and still raw, so family members don't want their names revealed now. But one, standing next to the tree Friday morning, wanted to say how much the ornaments have meant, how much hope their words have carried, and how beautiful they are to see. "They twinkle at night," she says.

May you know the peace that passes all understanding

Peace. It's the message of the season, a promise delivered by angels to shepherds long ago. But on this day and many days, we wonder how on Earth we can find this peace. We're battered by wars and staggered by suffering, and even in our homes, the joy of the holiday can instead be hollowed by financial strain, a fractured family, a diagnosis.

But the promise we've received is not the promise of peace, but the opportunity to find it, if we choose. And if we choose, it's out there in small and powerful ways. A moment of quiet beauty. The kindness of strangers and friends. Four dozen ornaments on a dogwood tree.

Embrace hope with all your heart

Not enough to erase sadness, but to discover, at its edge, some joy.

Let all those rejoice who put their trust in you

And peace.

Merry Christmas


Anonymous said...

Mr. St. Onge,
This was a good story. It lets us know that a few kind words can mean so much to someone.
Thank you. Happy new year!