This was given to me on a cassette long ago and though I'm not a fan of country music I could listen to Reba McEntire read The Christmas Guest over and over again. In fact I do. The last 60 seconds makes tears of joy run down my face. The poem was written by Helen Steiner Rice and I put the words below the video for those who are pressed for time. I urge you to listen and perhaps you'll be filled with feelings of love, joy and warmth too. This year more than ever, those feelings are balm to the spirit.
The Story of the Christmas Guest
by Helen Steiner Rice
It happened one day at December's end
Some neighbors called on an old-time friend.
And they found his shop so meager and mean,
Made gay with a thousand boughs of green.
And old Conrad was sitting with face ashine.
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched the twine.
And he said "My friends at dawn today,
When the cock was crowing the night away,
The Lord appeared in a dream to me.
And He said, 'I'm coming your guest to be"
So I've been busy with feet astir,
Strewing my shop with branches of fir.
The table is spread and the kettle is shined,
And over the rafters the holly is twined.
And now I'll wait for my Lord to appear;
And listen closely so I will hear,
His steps as he nears my humble place.
And I'll open the door and I'll look on his face.
Then his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
For this was the happiest day he had known.
For long since his family had passed away.
And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas Day.
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest,
This Christmas would be the dearest and best.
So he listened with only joy in his heart,
And with every sound he would rise with a start,
And looked for the Lord to be at his door.
Like the vision that he had had a few hours before.
So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
But all he could see on the snow covered ground
Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn.
And all his clothes were ragged and worn.
But old Conrad was touched and he went to the door
And he said, "Your feet must be cold and sore.
I have some shoes in my shop for you.
And I have a coat to keep you warmer, too."
So with grateful heart the man went away.
But Conrad noticed the time of day
And he wondered what made the dear Lord so late,
And how much longer he'd have to wait.
Then he heard another knock, and he ran to the door,
But it was only a stranger once more.
A bent old lady with a shawl of black,
And a bundle of kindling piled on her back.
But she asked only for a place to rest,
a place that was reserved, for Conrad's great guest.
But her voice seemed to plead, "Don't send me away,
Let me rest for awhile this Christmas Day."
So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup.
After she had left, he was filled with dismay
For he saw that the hours were slipping away
The Lord had not come as He said He would
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.
When out of the stillness he heard a cry.
"Please help, me and tell me - Where am I?"
So again he opened his friendly door.
And stood disappointed as twice before.
It was a child who had wandered away,
And was lost from her family on Christmas Day.
Again Conrad's heart was heavy and sad,
But he knew he could make this little girl glad.
So he called her in and he wiped her tears,
And he quieted all her childish fears.
Then he led her back to her home once more.
Then as he entered his own darkened door,
He knew that the Lord was not coming today,
For the hours of Christmas, had all passed away.
So he went to his room, and he knelt down to pray.
He said, "Lord, why did you delay?
What kept You from coming to call on me?
I wanted so much Your face to see."
Then softly, in the silence, a voice he heard.
"Lift up your head - I have kept My word.
Three times my shadow crossed your floor.
Three times I came to your lowly door.
I was the beggar with bruised cold feet;
I was the woman you gave something to eat;
I was the child on the homeless street.
Three times I knocked, three times I came in,
And each time I found the warmth of a friend.
Of all the gifts, love is the best.
I was honored to be your Christmas guest."
I love God and it's a huge struggle for me to write anything about Him. What you think about me isn't that big a deal, I'm just a human being and don't expect others to think I'm more than that. Enough stupid and horrible stuff humans do and say gets blamed on God so it's overwhelming to try to write about God. I'm pretty intelligent but I can't pretend to know much, especially about God. I have no idea why, but God's doesn't just appear on earth to do everything for us when we need it, so it seems we are to help each other.
What I read in my bible is not what God is supposed to come down and do, it's what I'm supposed to do, the actions I am responsible for. I'm supposed to work as hard as I'm able and control myself. I'm supposed to be his hands and feet to help someone else when they need it. I'm supposed to speak comforting words that strengthen others. I'm supposed to give away love.
I'm a little like old Conrad, I'm eagerly waiting to see God and hear his voice, his words of Love. I've asked God for countless things many times, to send help when I've been hungry, poor, injured, alone or scared. I've asked him to send help to someone else when I can't be there, or it's something I can't do. Sometimes someone shows up, other times whoever is around is too busy, or it's too much for them to do, or they're not interested, or they don't want to help.
In the past when I was weak or tired I asked God to give me more strength and I found a way to help myself and others whenever they needed it. Others might credit me as being strong but it's God, because I'm not that big, strong or impressive. I've been sick and worn out the last three years, I couldn't help others or myself. I'm slowly healing and getting stronger every day. There weren't many around to lend a hand or offer kind words. Criticism, blame, mean words and indifference made me both physically sicker and more depressed. I've received a lot of love and comfort on OS and it's helped me get back on my feet again. I couldn't do it alone.
One night when Jeff was here I started to stress about something and I could feel my heart starting to beat too quickly. I feel helpless when I have an SVT and most of the time nothing I do stops it. So I started to be a little freaked out and told him. I was thinking about getting up and taking a beta blocker when he put his arms around me and started stroking my hair. I don't remember what he was saying, I just remember it was soothing, I guess I relaxed because it went away. He could have been a jerk and told me not to be a baby and just take a pill, he could have been indifferent or annoyed, instead he was there for me.
When anyone came and needed help, I saw the face of God and was blessed to be able to give. When others came to give help, strength and love I heard the voice of God. I agree with the poem, of all the gifts love is the best. There's nothing else on earth I'd rather exchange.
I wrote this last week but couldn't push publish, somehow I couldn't delete it either. Erika K asked what I was doing for Christmas and I appreciate her coming back to think of me. Though the financial picture is bleak, I learned not to care about that years ago. There's much freedom in not caring.
Erika, I do have something special to look forward to, I’m going to be with someone who really wants to see me this year. I’m going to visit Jeff. For the first time in years I find myself saying Merry Christmas and meaning it. This year I feel like I’m the one who is Blessed with the best gift of all.