A soldier on active duty during the Korean War is comforted at Christmastime.
Posted in , Jul 22, 2020
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.