A Christmas Day Wish

God Bless all! It is the time of family, of remembrances, of watching the magic in the eyes of children as they anticipate Christmas morning. It is the traditional time to celebrate the birth of Christ and all that this event represents. It is the reason for the gift giving, for all the traditions that have developed over time, from Christmas trees, to St Nick. And the gift giving is also a representation of the Gift God gave to us that first Christmas.

May this time of year be one of love, joy, and peace. And may the new year, which is only a week away, be one of promise. Again, God Bless! And I’ll close this with a link to a Christmas song from the Piano Guys. F. D. Brant (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

 

Advertisements

A Christmas Wish

God Bless All! It is the time of family, of remembrances, of watching the magic in the eyes of children as they anticipate Christmas morning. It is the traditional time to celebrate the birth of Christ and all that this event represents. It is the reason for the gift giving, for all the traditions that have developed over time, from the Christmas trees, to St Nick. And the gift giving is also a representation of the Gift God gave to us that first Christmas.

May this time of year be one of love, joy, and peace. And may the new year, which is only a week away, be one of promise. Again, God Bless! And I’ll close this with a link to a Christmas song from the Piano Guys. F. D. Brant

Published in: on December 25, 2014 at 6:44 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Christmas is Here

We have reached that time of year to celebrate, each in our own way, the tradition of Christmas, the time that prophecy had been fulfilled by the birth of Christ. It is important to remember that this is the true meaning of Christmas. A loving God who through his prophets thousands of years in the past foretold of this birth. It was God’s way of bringing mankind back. (On this previous Saturday I posted my annual Christmas story, this year it is titled Storms. If you haven’t had a chance to read it please open the December or Short Story sub-title in the right column and enjoy, or click on this provided link. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/storms/ )

Many celebrate this time by going to Church, others together with family. Yet, anyway you look at it, this is about love, about giving, about family. So no matter your thoughts on what Christmas represents, let all of us ask for Peace. Yes it would be nice if this old world could finally see such a thing, but we are still a world of tribes, and even to have one day with Peace is something to look forward to, hope for, and pray for.

So as we gather with our families, celebrating those traditions, let all of us feel the warmth that such gatherings bring, enjoy the many gifts, and marvel at the magic and wonderment that children bring to this special time of year. Remember the love that is in this world, and dwell, even if it is only on this day, on this – For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son . . .

So I say to you and yours – God Bless and Merry Christmas.  F. D. Brant

Storms

Here is this year’s Christmas short story – Storms. I always try to make my fictional stories be a little different from the standard holiday fare. Yet, with all that is happening in this world, at this period in time, it is always nice to have an uplifting story. Something that allows us to concentrate on the good and for a short time avoid the headlines that are shouting all that negativity. This year’s story deals with the realities that our soldiers face, and for many the outcome of their time is grim, leading to death. Such is war, whether it is called that or not. So here is one of those stories as we follow Corporal Scott Carsen and his family who, at the beginning of this story, have nothing to hold on to and as such cannot have closure one way or the other. Here then, for your enjoyment, is Storms.

It was close to the holidays and they were expecting their son home for Christmas, but instead there came an official letter stating that he was missing in action – from the highs of anticipation, to the lows of despair, all in that few moments of time.  What had happened, was he still alive, had he died? So much went through their minds as they clung together. This was supposed to be his last tour in that war torn country, in that desert. And once back, his time in the military would have been over. They had anticipated a joyful reunion instead of this – this letter. It was to be a rare time that the whole family would be together once again. Through a breaking voice that showed she was holding back the tears Jan asked quietly, “So where do we go from here, what can we do, should we let everybody know?”

Her husband Mike could only shake his head. He had no answers, since this was the very last thing he expected. With a voice as choked as hers he could only say, and at the same time voicing his thoughts, “I just don’t know, no ideas, no direction.” He was silent for a moment as they continued to hold each other both lost deep in their own personal thoughts, personal grief. After what seemed too long he continued, “I think that there are two things that we need to do. First give this time to be fully realized, and second and probably most important, we pray.”

* * *

Corporal Scott Carsen remained hidden in the shallow ravine. This was to be his last patrol before returning home and leaving the Army. At first, as they left the compound, it appeared to be no different than any of the myriad of patrols that he had been involved with since being assigned to this company in the desert. Yet, right at this moment, as far as he could tell, he was the only one that had survived the ambush – although, he had no idea if that it would remain that way. The surprise had been complete. The enemy simply rose out of the sands like ghosts and in seconds they were down to only a very few men, and suddenly it had grown quiet and he realized that he was it. With fear penetrating every part of his being he prayed that he might be spared, but felt that with what had just transpired that wasn’t going to happen. Where had the ones who had surprised us come from? And how did they know we would be patrolling this area? As far as he knew these random patrols were to be just that – random. It was to insure that the chances of ambushes would be minimized. Maybe, just maybe this ambush had been unplanned. Still I’m not going to find any answers right now.

With his hastily said prayer a hot desert wind began to blow with determination, and shortly this was followed with a sand storm. Whether it was his prayer, or coincidence that brought the sandstorm, he didn’t know. But the one thing he did know it was the reason he was still alive. Every once in a while he could see a shadow of one of the enemy materialize out of the blowing sands, and catch a word or two that was thrown by the wind, but other than that nothing. All he could assume was that the ones who had attacked figured they had killed everyone in the patrol. He guessed that the enemy was probably looting the bodies’ right at this moment. Well, at least as many as they could find anyway. The only positive thing out of this was that his buddies were dead and they couldn’t suffer at their hands. Still, he knew that if he was captured alive that it would be hell for him, and that a slow painful death awaited him.

He was a Christian in a country of unbelievers who took pride in the fact that they had killed a believer and if he was caught alive . . . well he really didn’t want to go there. His thoughts were interrupted when another of the enemy materialized out of the blowing sandstorm, and this time it was obvious that he had been seen. In the dim and scattering light he could see puzzlement on this one’s face. This was followed by a smile as the enemy realized that there might be another body to loot. He approached eagerly and carelessly not thinking that the one he was approaching could be alive. After all, their attack on these soldiers had been a complete surprise.  He reached down to grab the body and drag it out of the sand, only to his surprise to find this one alive. It was the last thoughts that he would ever have, as he became the victim of a surprise attack himself.

Corporal Scott Carsen, breathing hard after the brief struggle, knew that he couldn’t stay where he was. It was obvious that if this one had found him, others would shortly and he couldn’t count on being lucky again. He only hoped that the one he had just killed wouldn’t be discovered until he was well away. Working his way further down the ravine that he was presently in, he really had no idea where it led or whether there was any safety ahead. All he knew that where he was presently was not safe. At times, as he worked his way away from the area of attack, he found that the shallow ravine almost disappeared and at these points the winds and blowing sand was almost unbearable. The heat was stifling, almost overpowering, and the hot sands that were blowing and the sands he was lying on seemed hotter than the air itself.  He felt like he was in an oven. The only respite being the rising walls of the ravine which provided a slight break in the winds and blowing sand.

Finally it appeared that the ravine was beginning to head downhill. Visibility still sucked and he desperately needed a drink of water, but dare not until he could find some place to shelter him from the wicked sandstorm and the possibility of the enemy finding him. Crawling and dragging himself along to remain below the rim of the ravine he felt an edge just ahead of him, and pulled himself up to it. From what he could see, which was nothing really, there was a drop off at this point. Again because of the blowing sands he had no idea how far it down it went. One thing he knew for certain was he couldn’t backtrack. He had no idea where the enemy was or whether the body of the one that he had killed had been discovered – leading to a possible search for him. So forward it must be, and after gathering some courage he went over the side, and found that he was falling. It seemed to be a long distance and he screamed, which was lost in the winds and blowing sand, and was not heard. He struck something hard, and that was the last thing he remembered as consciousness left him.

* * *

When he finally came back to reality, he realized that his ears were ringing and it appeared to be somewhere close to dusk, but at the same time a thin shaft of bright sunlight was striking him in the face. This initial conclusion had to be false. So where was he? As he began to reason once again he found that it was quiet, and that meant that the sandstorm had blown itself out. Again, where was he? He was about to move when he heard movement and froze in position. Straining to hear he thought he could make out a few words that were in the language of the enemy. Could it be they had figured out that he had escaped and now was searching for him? Well, one thing for sure, he wasn’t going to stick his head out of wherever he was and ask. Breathing slowly he studied his unintended hiding place and realized that he was under a rock ledge – probably one of the reasons for the drop off that he had fallen over. He also found that the sandstorm had filled the outside of this ledge leaving only a small crack visible from the outside. Nothing at all to give an indication that there was a hole, a place to remain hidden, or that he was here.

He heard the voices grow stronger a couple of times and had seen a foot a time or two, but no one looked or searched in his direction. Eventually, and he never figured out how or why, he either fell asleep or lost consciousness once again – with the next time of being awake presenting him with total silence and full darkness – he continued to remain motionless. There seemed to be a glow somewhere outside and he tried to shift around in the cramped area to locate the source of that glow. It seemed to flicker somewhat suggesting that it could be a fire – possibly a campfire. With no success at being able to actually see the source of the glow he knew that he couldn’t remain here and carefully removed the sand that blocked the entrance.

Once outside he could see what had happened. When he had fallen and lost consciousness his body had rolled into this low point. Over time the blowing sand had backfilled the open area leaving only a small opening. From the evidence he figured that the winds cleared and then refilled this place with sand over and over again. Looking towards that glow he could see a campfire and from the shadows and movement within the light he determined that it probably was the same force that had ambushed the patrol he had been part of. Seeing them there he knew that he couldn’t remain. Eventually they would discover him and what would follow was something he did not want to experience.

With his eyes adjusted to the darkness he moved slowly down the ravine to a point closer to the fire, crawled up and over the edge, and worked his way away from the camp. He knew or hoped that soon another larger patrol from their base would come out to find out what had transpired, but again this would take time. The attack had come between check-in times so that left a larger area for another patrol to search – thusly stretching the time necessary to locate the missing soldiers. Now away he stood up and could barely see the location and glow from their fire, and by both compass, and stars headed in the general direction of the base, not knowing what may be between him and safety. He knew that he would have to swing wide into unknown areas to avoid another encounter. What wouldn’t he give for that map that Sgt. Gibson had been carrying? Who knew what that item could be, but at this moment it probably would be anything, anything at all that someone asked for. He smiled at this thought knowing that whatever the object would have been, he probably wouldn’t have had it.

After a time he came to an area that seemed to be pockmarked with sandstone hills among the sand dunes with a rocky sandy soil that crunched under his boots. Eventually coming close to one of these hills he saw what appeared to be a number of caves that he suspected had been created by the blowing winds, and maybe those rare water events. He wasn’t sure if what he was thinking would be a good idea, but he really didn’t have a clue to when sunrise would arrive and he felt that it would only be safe to travel at night. Yes, a few of the enemy did have night vision goggles, but not many. And he suspected that the ones that had attacked them probably did not. So he carefully studied his options and felt that one of these caves would give him the best chance of survival. At least he had enough water and rations to last a couple of days if not longer if he was careful. And careful was exactly what he wanted and had to be.

Picking a cave that seemed to give less promise for hiding he checked it out, and found indeed that it did offer less promise, and had to continue his search, eventually finding one similar to the one he had fallen into earlier. With the small flashlight he crawled into the opening, sliding on his stomach for a short distance before he was able to stand and explore this cave, finding this one went back some distance and then opened up into a large chamber. He hoped that the small opening would discourage anybody to more than look and then move on. To his surprise he found a small natural tank – simply a place that happened to be a depression in the stone that over time had deepened – that still held water. These natural tanks were never guaranteed to hold water so one couldn’t count on them, and because of this, were rarely included as a water source on any of the local maps. He thanked God for this find because it meant that he could stay here for a longer period of time, leaving no tracks, no sign of anyone being around, and probably remain safe. At least with the winds that blew in the desert at night, any tracks that he would have left would disappear before morning. Searching and exploring his new found home he set up for the long haul, to wait this out, and he hoped that soon, one way or the other, he would survive.

Even though he had been unconscious for however long it had been, he found that the stress and fatigue of the day was beginning to overwhelm him and he would need to sleep. As had been his habit since a child he prayed. Praying specifically for the friends and comrades that he had just lost – their families – and thanking God for his own survival and that soon, this ordeal would come to conclusion. Once his prayer was complete he thought about taking out that small Bible that he always carried but for this one time decided that sleep was more important – as it was, he could barely keep his eyes open. Finding a semi comfortable place in the sands that covered the floor of this hidden place he was instantly asleep.

As he slept a vivid dream entered his mind. It was strong enough that when he awoke that the images remained with him. He found that he was in this very cave where he had found refuge, sitting in the dark. He needed to conserve the batteries in that small flashlight so he was using it sparingly. After all he might be required to remain in this hidden place for an extended period of time and as such had to use his finite supplies sparingly. This included, of course, his weapon and ammo for which much had been used up in that brief and bloody firefight. In a sense that had a positive side, if one really wanted to think about it. It meant that the weight that he was carrying was less. Still by being in the dark all of this was a mental exercise since he couldn’t see any of his remaining equipment. He suddenly realized that the light in the cave was slowly changing. It came to him when he could begin to see his legs, leaving him puzzled for a moment. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor, leaning forward and looking down that way. He was back against one of the walls and looked up to see a man standing by the small natural tank lighting the area with a soft glow that allowed this person to be seen. As for the source of that light he wasn’t sure, but it appeared to originate with this individual.

Funny how dreams work – he didn’t consider it out of the ordinary that it should be this way. It was then that this one spoke. He didn’t even know how to describe the voice other than the timbre was definitely male. With power and conviction this person, who never identified himself said, “Many prayers have gone to the Father on your behalf and He has heard. It has been tasked to me to inform you of this and that what is transpiring here has already been written, the outcome known, and that this has all been foreseen.”

All Corporal Carsen could do was stare. He was just about to ask a question, when this one who was there before him smiled, and darkness enclosed the cave once again leaving him quite alone. What, he thought, was that all about? It was at this point that he snapped wide awake playing that dream back through his mind a number of times, until exhaustion took him once more and he fell once again into a deep sleep.

* * *

It was the sound of vehicles that brought him back to reality. Not sure if it was his imagination he worked his way towards the entrance of the cave and once his eyes adjusted to the change in light he looked out and froze. He knew that he couldn’t be seen but he didn’t want to make some type of movement that might cause someone to look his way. As he looked around, he found that the place he had chosen to hide was an area surrounded by these sandstone hills forming a small bowl. And presently inside this bowl were a number of vehicles and all of them belonged to the enemy. He could hear them speaking among themselves and could see a number of them entering some of the caves higher up, both removing supplies, and storing other supplies. It was now obvious that this was a place that they used quite frequently and it made him fear that they would be aware of the cave his was now hiding. Quietly, he withdrew to the deepest portion praying that the cave that he was in would be overlooked. After all, he was alone and heavily outnumbered. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, he thought.

* * *

As was tradition, the family gathered on Christmas Eve. Mike and Jan smiled as they welcomed their other two children, their spouses, and their grandchildren into their home. All would remain this year to celebrate Christmas as a family, and later on Christmas Day return to their homes. While this was a joyful time for what this time of the year represented, it was also subdued, since one of their own was missing. And because there had been nothing said or added since that letter, what had transpired with their one missing son was still an unknown. And if any wanted to admit it, the normal family tradition was simply to enjoy the family Christmas eve, returning to their homes for that special Christmas morning that was so special for the children. But this one time, they, as a family, had decided to spend both the evening and the next day together.

It was important to them to remember the one missing family member and to lift up in prayer his safe return. Scott had always been one that wanted to join the military even though the rest never understood it. And through his time of basic training and AIT he had thrived. It was obvious to them that he really enjoyed it. Yet, now, at this time of the celebration of the birth of Christ and all it represented, there was a deep sadness that couldn’t be hidden even though they tried. So with heavy hearts they turned in, smiling at the excited faces on the children, knowing that tonight there would be too little sleep, and that with dawn, these same children would be out of bed, sneaking into the living room to see what had been left under the tree. And even with the sadness that permeated their beings they couldn’t help but smile, as the warmth of memories came back to them of their time waiting, when they were young, with great anticipation, for Christmas morning.

* * *

Ah Christmas morning, the chaos, laughter and joy, as those mysteries that magically appeared under the tree were revealed, one by one. It was now late morning and quiet was slowly returning, with the parents and grandparents sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee, taking a brief respite as they could. If things followed the norm, then shortly, most of the young ones would be napping, giving them the time to clean up the torn and scattered bright wrapping paper. It would be a time, once again, of remembrances, of those times past. It would the time that all could relax before beginning the Christmas meal that all would share, giving thanks to God for his Son who came to be the Savior of the world.

In one of those quiet moments there came a knock on the front door. All of them looked at each other questioningly as nobody was expected since, other than Scott, all of them were here. Maybe it was one of the neighbors? After all, a number did stop by to wish them a Merry Christmas. Plus the neighbors were aware of what was transpiring with the family. They heard the door being opened by one of the older children followed by a scream of delight. Now curious they started to get up when the child came running in with a big smile beckoning them to come out to the front door. And as they came through the doorway from the kitchen to the living room there stood Scott, home, safe, and with tears and joy they joined him, as he joined the family. Many questions were in their minds as well as on their lips, but for now they kept silent. And before them, on this Christmas day, they were all here, all together, a whole family once again. And God had provided, to this family, a gift. It was a gift of love, of family, the reunion of their son and brother, and there could be nothing better than this. Unless, it was the gift God gave mankind – and that was the ultimate gift – his Son.

Scott quietly closed the door, and as a family they all returned to the kitchen, to memories, to family, and he quietly thanked God once again for his safe return home.   

Published in: on December 21, 2013 at 8:27 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: