Large snowflakes floated and danced creating a panorama of pristine white; a small breeze twirling them into small tornadoes spinning around the feet of holiday shoppers. Children, bundled warmly, laughed while sailing snowballs towards each other and occasionally towards an innocent passerby.
On the corner, a Santa with a bucket rang his bell in time with the church chimes that pealed through the crystal night. While one offered sanctuary, the other asked for help, but both offered hope.
A cardboard box served as a cover for a man holding a sign. “Homeless. Please Help.” The coffer before him sat empty. Cars passed by in a never-ending parade sending slush upon the walk and occasionally upon the unsuspecting.
The street lights sparkled green and red keeping with decorations in every window. The sounds of carols echoed through the night along with the giggles of the children sledding down the hill of the park. Had they not all been so busy, being wrapped up in lives of their own making, they might have noticed him.
He sat against the building, snuggled close against the steps. His hat was pulled down as far as it could be pulled. His collar stretched up as high as it could stretch. His knees were pulled close to his chest and tucked under the worn coat that concealed his hands and arms. They were all so busy, but so was he. He watched as though an empty sponge, absorbing all that was going on around him.
He watched as the limo pulled up to the curb. The chauffer opened the door as the couple slid from their seats. The gentleman adjusted his top hat and helped the lady to her feet. She lifted her gown to keep it from being soiled. He tucked her had around his arm as they past; as they past the Santa with his bucket and as they passed the homeless in his box.
He watched as the family walked by, weighted down with brightly wrapped packages. They didn’t smile. A small son ran along beside them, crying out his list of what he expected Christmas to bring him and being pacified by his parents that he surely would receive all that he requested. And they passed by the Santa with his bucket, and the homeless with his coffer, and the child on the corner with worn shoes. And he watched.
They were businessmen and as they left their office, they talked of all the deals that needed closing. Christmas was such an inconvenience. There was work to be done and there wasn’t enough time. Neither was there enough time to notice the Santa on the Corner, or the homeless with his coffer, or the child with worn shoes, or the old woman without a shawl.
Across the street, the small café was closing. She took off her apron and counted her tips. It had been a slow day. She would have to get more hours in next week if she was to make her rent. As she turned the sign from “Opened” to “Closed” she noticed them. The Santa on the Corner, the homeless in the box, the child with worn shoes, the old woman without a shawl, and the man sitting at the bottom of the steps in the ragged coat. The wind blew snowflakes into her eyes as she closed the café door behind her. Horns honked their disturbance as she crossed the slushy street. She dropped a portion of her tips into the bucket of the Santa. “I wish it could be more.” She whispered. To the homeless she handed a warm meal in a paper bag and thanked him as he said “God bless you.” She traded her shoes for the shoes of the child, amazed that they seemed to wear the same size. She wrapped her own sweater around the shoulders of the old woman. But when she approached the steps where the man and been sitting, she found only a coat lying in the snow. She picked it up, amazed at the warmth escaping it. As she reached her hand into the pocket she found her fingers clasped around a tiny wooden manger and a tiny wooden cross wrapped in a note that said: “For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was weary and you gave me rest; I was naked and you clothed me”.
May we all celebrate this Christmas Season, each with the knowledge of who is watching. For it is through the seeing of others, that we find Christ.