On a post-Christmas walk, my thoughts were many and my heart was heavy. Too many young fathers and mothers in the Tri-Cities had passed away this past year and the fresh grief of recent death dulled my vision and crowded my thoughts. In rote obedience, my feet stepped in their usual cadence through the unique streets of the city, turning off Sheldon to enter Duncan Woods like the workings of a mechanical conveyor belt.
I looked up to find myself in the hollow of the park. Was it only a few weeks past that I stood in this very place before the manger?
A smile crept over my face. What an event that was. In our group that journeyed to Bethlehem together, I knew only my three book club friends. We were a diverse lot: older folks, singles, families, and a dad with three young boys.
It was at the manger that the youngest lad expressed himself boldly. “I want to stay here! I want to go closer to the baby Jesus!” he sobbed through his tears. Our group, who had taken to singing with the angels just a few steps back, began to sing, “Silent Night, Holy Night.” It was not silent. This adorable little boy was not about to be lulled to quietness. He was mad. Life was just not fair.
I continued my walk, both thoughts and feet traveling down a new path. The Journey to Bethlehem experience was special, but as I reflected, it was not all beauty and tranquility. The menacing Romans were actually quite intimidating, the tax was far too steep, and to be honest, I was a bit cold. “You’re right, cute little boy,” I said to myself. “Life is not fair.”
Even still, amidst this raw truth I recalled the words of my friend Gail who put it so well. She summed up what we were all feeling that night in Duncan Woods turned Bethlehem when she said that she thought it was the shared experience. She explained that although we did not know any or many of the people, we were united in our purpose for being there: to honor the Christ of Christmas.
So I walked on, renewed a bit in heart and mind. I walked on, knowing that the road ahead will likely have great joys and deep hurts. I walk on, thankful for all those who share life’s experience with me and I with them.
— By Lynn Groothuis, special to the Tribune