An Angelic Embrace Warmed a Soldier's Heart for the Holidays

A soldier on active duty during the Korean War is comforted at Christmastime.

Posted in , Jul 22, 2020

Wes Allard in 1954

I was 21 years old, spend­ing my second Christmas in Korea after being drafted into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I was alone, walking back to my barracks after a night out with the guys. It was cold and dark, Christmas Eve. I wrapped my arms around myself and trudged onward.

Everyone had talked about what they missed back home. The holiday festivities. Their families. All my comrades had some­thing they’d return to. But not me. I didn’t even mind being far away for the holidays.

I’d had a rootless childhood, landing with my grandparents when I was 11. I never met my dad. I didn’t even have a brother to lean on. I resented the fact that I was basically alone in the world.

My thoughts weighed heavy as I opened the door to my barracks. Darkness enveloped the room. I headed down the center aisle toward my bed when something caught my eye. A fuzzy light was hovering at the far end of the room. Was one of the guys playing a trick on me?

“Who is that?” I asked. “What are you up to?”

No answer. This didn’t look like a security light or even a f lashlight beam. The shining orb was soft and white, about the size of my hand. Somehow familiar.

Slowly, it moved toward me. I walked in its direction, as if in a trance. I stopped at my bunk, eyes fixed, and sat down. The light moved closer, getting brighter until it was upon me, so blinding that I had to bow my head. Something touched me, surrounded me. I felt warm and secure, like I’d been embraced. The glow washed over me, bathing me in calm.

Everything—loneliness, resentment, envy—all my heaviness melted away. In its place was a tranquility I’d never known. I didn’t want it to end. It seemed to stay for­ever and yet not long enough. And then it was gone.

There I was again, just me, alone in the barracks. But I was changed. The memory of that angelic embrace has never left me. That Christmas, God gave me the gift of a lifetime: the assurance that I was far from rootless. I was rooted in him.

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