Christmas on Miracle Lane
By Kaye Jacobs Volk
As Eve sat on the park bench, she thought back to the recent events in her life. She had felt increasingly unhappy lately about her life. Earlier today her mother had wanted her to take her shopping. Eve felt impatient with her mother and upon returning her home, refused to go into the house, as her mother requested.
Later, she had yet another argument with her daughter, Katie. They always seemed to argue lately. Sam, her husband of 18 years, just seemed to not care about how much she still had to get done for Christmas and how hard things were for her.
Finally, she had left the house, saying she needed to go to the grocery store. She had stopped by the grocery store, but found her patience tried by a little old woman in front of her who only had a few things, but ended up having to take back one of the cans of soup because she didn’t have enough money with her. Finally Eve had left the store and driven around for a while, feeling troubled, angry, and weary. She had even muttered a prayer heavenward, I just wish you cared enough to help. I just wish you would help me. It was the first prayer of any sort that she had offered in a long time.
The only help she had received was that her car quit and she was stuck who knew where. After a while, she had gotten out of the car and ended up on a strange road called Miracle Lane, which luckily had a park bench that she could rest on. It also had a beautiful Christmas village with lots of lights.
“Are you all right?” A voice brought Eve back to the present and she looked up, startled. Smiling before her was the most delightful looking elderly woman she had ever seen.
Eve hesitated, then said, “Well, yes, but my car quit on me. It’s down the block there and I just came here to get some help.
The woman said, “There’s a public phone on the far side of the park. I’ll show you where it is and you will have a chance to walk through this wonderful little Christmas village of ours. I would hate for you to simply scurry away. Everyone needs to visit here occasionally…it’s magic, you know.”
Eve chuckled. “Magic?” she asked, standing up slowly.
“It is. You’ll see,” whispered the old woman.
The old woman took one step forward, then spun back around. “Oh, where are my manners? My name is Merry, with an ‘e’ and two ‘r’s.” She reached out and shook Eve’s hand. “And what is your name?”
The two women began walking slowly along a glowing pathway.
“This place really is something. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before,” Eve began.
‘We don’t publicize. Don’t misunderstand…we want everyone to see our park, but they come to us on our terms. It’s quite simple.
“Oh, here…you must see this little row of shops. They’re wonderful!” Merry suddenly brought their walk to a halt in front of a miniature cluster of old fashioned storefronts. The entire setting was aglow with the warmth of the season, and Eve laughed aloud at the joyful throng of tiny shoppers.
Merry stood by in silence for a time. Then, ever so slowly she took one step back and away from Eve.
It was then that Eve spotted one little doll-like figure trudging wearily down the small sidewalk. Eve looked hard, her eyes widening, as the bright and cheerful scene dimmed and the pace of the other dolls steadily slowed to stopping. It was only the one that moved on, burdened by age and carrying one small sack.
Eve watched, hardly breathing, as the little doll figure, her scarf-covered head drooping, painfully climbed the long flight of steps up the side of a miniature pastry shop. She slipped inside through a doorway marked only by a bare bulb.
It was the red scarf that brought recognition. “The old lady from the grocery store!” Eve cried out, her words shattering the night’s stillness as she spun around to face Marry. “What is this?” she demanded.
“Just keep watching,” Merry said. She raised her hand and pointed toward the little window above the pastry shop.
Eve turned again to watch. Through the curtainless window she saw the meager apartment of the old woman. A cat curled itself affectionately around the woman’s leg as she opened a can and scooped out a portion of food for her little companion. Then the woman sat wearily down to her own meal—one “day-old” roll.
Eve’s heart was about to break. “She’s the old woman I saw earlier in the grocery store. I watched as she put back her can of soup.” Eve hung her head and whispered. “I could have paid for that, easily! It even crossed my mind, but I didn’t do it…I just let her walk away!” Eve glanced again at the bleak little window. “Is it shame I’m supposed to feel? Because I do, more than you can know. Is that it?”
Merry placed a tender hand on Eve’s arm. “There are other things you might learn here, Eve. Perhaps after you have experienced them all, you will understand.” Eve walked on at Merry’s side in solemn silence.
“We’re almost there,” Merry said as they approached what appeared to be a row of little houses. They were strangely familiar…this was the street on which she had spent her childhood!
They stopped in front of an exact duplication of Eve’s parents’ home….now her mother’s alone. A little doll turned and slowly entered the house, closing the front door behind her. At that moment, Eve could see clearly as the little doll now moved through the living room and toward the back of the house.
The doll, now in Eve’s old bedroom, picked up a beautifully made quilt and placed it inside a large box. The quilt was exquisite, constructed in Eve’s own favorite colors. The little figure then sat down, took out a notebook, and began to write:
I wanted so much to give this to you today. I have been working on it in the basement for quite some time. I know it’s just a few days before Christmas, but I wanted this to be more than merely a Christmas present to you. I want this to be a very special gift—to say thank you from a most grateful mother to a truly wonderful daughter, for all you have dome for me. I am so blessed to have you in my life.
With all my love,
Eve stood motionless. “That was the reason she wanted me to come inside today.” The sense of love for her mother was overwhelming…and she had pushed it aside time and time again these last many months. Oh, at that moment she wished she could fly to her mother’s arms and embrace her with tears and pleadings for forgiveness! She turned again to Merry, her eyes filled with remorse.
“Oftentimes, those things which we feel to be the most burdensome are in reality the makings of life’s greatest blessings,” Merry said solemnly.
“I wish so much I had gone inside,” Eve sobbed.
“Oh, life is full of such wishes, my dear.” Merry drew close to her new friend. “It is those we turn from mere wished to moments of action that bear the fruits of tomorrow’s joy.”
Eve was learning. She asked humbly, “What is ahead?”
Somehow, though, she knew what she would be seeing next. She nodded her head as they stopped again. It was her own home!
This house, too, stood as a perfect model in every detail.
As before, Eve was able to see inside. A light moved up the stairs and into Kate’s room, where her daughter was laying on her bed. Eve moved closer and saw Kate’s shoulders quivering with wrenching sobs.
A sudden rush of compassion swept across her heart and she could actually hear and feel Kate’s thoughts. Their stormy relationship was tearing the young girl apart. There were moments in her life that she wanted to share with her mother, but the wall of misunderstanding between them would not allow it. Feelings of being unloved overshadowed any sense of self worth.
“Oh, Katie, I am so sorry!” Eve spoke the words she had wanted to say so often, but pride had kept her heart closed to the tender needs of this cherished daughter. Now Eve watched and listened, her own heart breaking.
The glow in Kate’s room dimmed and moved on to find Sam. He was in the kitchen.
“Oh, no!” Eve exclaimed. Unbeknownst to Eve, Sam had spent a long time in deepest thought regarding his wife, and had chosen a plan of action. He would make a banana cake to help with her Christmas baking. The mess was of epic proportions. A dusting of white was the prevalent color of the room.
“Merry!” Eve spun around. “Look!” she cried in delight.
Merry stepped up to view the scene fully for herself. “Oh, my dear! Bit of a mess….but isn’t it grand?” Merry placed her hand on Eve’s shoulder. “He’s a good man, Eve. You are one of the lucky ones.”
Eve paused. “Yes….I am. Oh, Merry, I have been so foolish.”
“Perhaps. But mostly you’ve simply been…empty, my dear. You have simply wanted desperately to feel love again. But life has been getting in the way. This day, you have had at least four opportunities to love and to feel love. But you turned away from each one, because you have been empty—bogged down in a mire of incredible despair.”
“How do you know this?”
“There is much we know about you, Eve. You are not so different, there are millions like you. You simply need to be filled with love…a special kind of love.” She paused and looked toward the center of the park. “Up ahead, you will see for yourself…then you will know.”
The glow just ahead was intense. As they drew nearer the music stilled, leaving only the sweet sound of a mother’s hummed lullaby. The peace of this moment was as indescribable as eternity itself…there ahead, in the light, Eve saw before her the Nativity of the Lord! It was humble and glorious beyond words. She reverently knelt upon the warm, soft ground, gazing through her tears at the miraculous scene.
There was the noble Joseph and his young wife. Mary! The mother of Jesus! Eve was drawn to her sweet face as her lullaby drifted through the perfect stillness of the night.
“Oh, my!” Eve whispered through tears of overwhelming joy as she fixed her vision upon Him—her Lord and Savior.
For a golden moment, the world as Eve knew it paused, bathed in a flood of immeasurable peace. For there was now with Eve the knowledge that the combined events in the world of men could hold but the slightest shred of importance when compared to the reality of the Savior’s mission upon the earth.
Eve wept openly, for she understood now, as never before, the reality of His divine love…for her! It filled all the empty spaces she had brought with her to the village.
Taking Merry’s hands, Eve rose. “It is Him!” Eve said, looking once again at the manger. “It is His strength I’ve needed… His love that I have refused.” Eve paused for a long moment. “Oh, Merry, can I ever be forgiven?” she whispered.
“Certainly. He knows us so well. He knows how we mortals try so often to go it alone on this trail of life. However, it is a path that is impossible to travel alone. When we learn this, there is joy in our sojourn….regardless of what occurs. We owe our all to Him, and to our Father. We are asked to remember Him—and His love—always. Can you do that, Eve?”
“I can. I will!”
“Go now, my dear. May your Christmas be His Christmas…this night and always.”
“Thank you, Merry. Thank you.” Eve said, looking one last time at the kind face of Merry, smiling lovingly back at her. Then Eve turned and walked slowly toward the park’s entrance. It was time now for looking ahead.
Her first visit would be to a tiny apartment whose needful tenant would receive a new friend as well as the best Christmas of her life. Next, an aging mother’s hands would feel the warm and tender kisses of her grown child’s lips, and tears of gratitude would bind mother and daughter together as a healing balm. After that, a daughter waited—one who would wait no longer, and who would know this night that she was cherished and loved beyond measure. Finally, there was Sam. With each step, Eve knew more certainly that she would spend a lifetime and beyond at his side, and she would pray for as much time as was needed to be worthy of this extraordinary man. Merry’s words lingered within her heart, and Eve sensed a freedom and a strength that she had never known before. Always remember His love!
The lights of the Christmas village burned especially bright that night, for one more visitor had been touched by its miracle—and, most importantly, by the wonder of His love. Its effects were sweet and gently, and would last, forever.