Wednesday, November 30, 2005
This is Going to be the ONLY Sappy Christmas Story I Write...for awhile...
The church is lit in candles. The seraphim and cherubim smile down from stained glass. The pews creak under the weight of the congregation. The rustles of Mass beginning are dulled against the tapestries hanging from the old walls.

The congregation bows heads in prayer. The sick cough into their patched woolen sleeves, a babe is hushed. The choir begins the chants. Mary is porcelain and vacant, hands extended above the prayer candles. (An old woman, on her knees, lights three candles for three wishes, one for each grandson).

It is drafty in the old church; Christmas Eve is barren in Belgium; cold, biting, intimidating. This year is a desolate Mass, and the young members of the congregation are missed.

And the Mass is said in quiet drones by the Father, and the amen’s sung, and the choir begins its antecedent. A star (single, bright, pure) shines into the meekest nave of the oldest church, and the candles all wander to attention. A collective breath is taken. Hope is born, just as it was hundreds of years ago, when the Christ child was born.

What the congregation does not know is their star (single, bright, unfettered) is not a star at all, but a flare.

For miles away, over the trench-lines, the troops, bracketing against the cold, facing enemies, have drawn a conclusion this night. This night, there shall be no war.

The Germans have thrown the flare. The British have watched it explode into the blackest, coldest sky. The British remember the Nativity scene, and 2nd Scots Guardsman Hupper whispers to his patriots in the trench, “Truce.”

It is whispered throughout the trenches. The word freezes instantly as it leaves the lips of the British soldiers, but somehow, it carries across No-Man’s Land, translates into German.

“Waffenstillstand,” the Germans whisper in the cold.

Three Germans stand in their trench and heave a keg of ale up. They begin to walk across the barrier land. Another flare goes up, and the British see the band of men nearing. Three British rise to meet the Germans underneath the candescent glow of flare. And there, on the coldest, loneliest night of 1914, the British soldiers and the German soldiers share mead.

The congregation of the old French church departs Midnight Mass. Two stars have shirked the cold air and are alive La Veille De Noël. The congregation is still cold, and poor, and hungry, and missing the youth of the town. But as the last voice in the choir falls silent, and Jour De Noël falls upon them, there is warmth growing in the eyes of the poor villagers, of 2nd Scots Guardsman Hupper, of German Lieutenant Nuemann.
And it is Christmas now.
Written by FRITZ
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Name: Fritz

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    What I Live By:
    We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, unremembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source of the longest river The voice of the hidden waterfall And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, always— A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one. -T.S. Eliot "Little Gidding"

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