He leaned forward, watching every moment intently, and Carl was never the same again.
Carl was a 77-year-old in my care who was dying from stomach and liver cancer. He had been married a few times and was now living in a tiny house on the outskirts of town. He was a deeply spiritual man but had not been to the church of his youth for many years. He continued to say the prayers he remembered from childhood and was trying hard to find his way back to God. He did not realize that God had never left him.
Our church was presenting its yearly Living Nativity in just a few days and I asked Carl if he thought he might like to attend. “We’ll see,” he said. On the night of the event, Carl called to tell me he wanted to be there. Hours before it was going to begin I rushed to his house and, together with his wife, bundled him in pajamas, bathrobe, wool cap and blankets and drove him to our church.
The Living Nativity was held outside, under the stars on a cold and beautiful night. We seated him in a place of honor that had been prepared for him by the women in our church. Mary and Joseph were seated directly in front of Carl and Baby Jesus slept peacefully in his mother’s lap. The music started and a light snow began to fall.
Carl leaned forward and watched every moment intently, with tears streaming down his face. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Silent Night” played softly in the cold night air. Carl was never the same again. From that time on he lived with grace and serenity, was received back into the church of his youth and died with great peace a few weeks later. His glimpse of heaven on Earth was, for him, a gift from God that touched his heart deeply and brought comfort to his soul.