and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-Christmas
little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd
The farm was where they had grown up
and had been named Lone Pine Farm because ofthe
huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farm. Through the years
the tree had become
a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the
countryside.The young siblings
had fond memories of their childhood here but the city hustle andbustle
added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a
The old folks no longer showed their
horses, for the years had taken their toll, andgetting
out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting harder but it
gave them a
reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live. They sold a
few foals eachyear,
and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and
Angry, as they prepared to leave, the
young couple confronted the old folks. "Why doyou
not at least dispose of 'The Old One." She is no longer of use to
you. It's been
years since you've had foals from her. You should cut corners and
save so you
can have more for
yourselves. How can this old worn out horse bring you anythingbut
expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?"
The old man looked down at his worn
in the toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, " Yes I could
use a pair
of new boots. His arm
slid defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her nearwith
gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied
keep her because of love.
Nothing else, just love."
Baffled and irritated, the young folks
wished the old man and his wife a MerryChristmas
and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the
couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a happy
visit. A tearfell
upon their cheeks. How is it that these young folks do not
of the love that filled their hearts?
So it was, that because of the unhappy
leave-taking, no one noticed the insulationsmoldering
on the frayedwires
in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall.
None but the "Old One".
In a matter of minutes, the whole barn
was ablaze and the hungry flames were lickingat
the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man
his wife to call for help
as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. Butthe
flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He
sank sobbing tothe
ground, helpless before the fire's fury. His wife back from calling
cradled him in her arms,
clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.
By the time the fire department
arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, andthe
old man and his wife exhausted from their grief huddled together
before the barn.
They were speechless as they rose fromthe
cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there
anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her
upon his shoulders as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears
frayed red bandana.
Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has sparedour
home on this eve of Christmas.
Let us gather strength and climb the hill to theold
pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look
our home and give thanks
to God that it has been spared and pray for our belovedmost
precious gifts that have been taken from us.
And so, he took her by the hand and
slowly helped her up the snowy hill as hebrushed
aside his own tears with the back of his old and withered hand. The
the hill was hard for their old bodies inthe
steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of
paused to rest, looking up to the top of the hill the old couple
fell to their knees in
amazement at the incredible beauty before them. Seemingly,every
glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the
branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly
candles.And poised on its top
most bough, a crystal crescent moon
glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a
tree such as this. They were breathlessas
the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.
Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of
wonder and incredible joy. Amazed and mystified,he
took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward. There, beneath the
resplendent glory, a mist
hovering over andglowing
in the darkness was their Christmas
gift. Shadows glistening in the nightlight.
Bedded down about the "Old One" close
to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd,
safe.At the first hint of smoke, she had
pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the
horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking
back, she hadled
them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals
frightened and dashed
about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling,hungry
flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips
like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new
years crop of babies,pressed
uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill and
beneath the pine.
And now, she layamong
them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife. Those she
had not disappointed. Her
body was brittle with years, tired from the climb, but thegolden
eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift--- Because of love.Only Because of love.
Tears flowed as the old couple shouted
their praise and joy, And again the peace
filled their hearts.