Christmas…The Anchor of Hope

 

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Dear Reader:

When my family moved to Laurens, SC… after I finished junior high at Horace Sisk Jr. High School in Fayetteville, NC… we attended our extended family’s church-The First Presbyterian Church.

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It is a beautiful old church (dating back to 1832) with red velvet pews, a chandelier hanging down in front of the choir loft with gorgeous stained-glass windows throughout the sanctuary.

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For the four years I lived in Laurens before heading off to college I sang in the choir each Sunday…my voice wasn’t and isn’t great..but the choir was always desperate for alto’s. The beautiful stained glass window behind the massive organ depicts a crown in the middle of the abstract…just beautiful!

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I remember one stained glass window always puzzled me…it looked like Jesus was kneeling on the shore (maybe by the Sea of Galilee) and something was in front of him…I deducted, one day, that it must be an old heavy wooden anchor. It never made sense to me then, but it does now…Christ is our anchor at Christmas; Christ is our anchor every day.

I had these thoughts on my mind when I stopped by Honey’s yesterday morning…and then came the God Wink. On the way out of the garage (after looking at some pottery pieces I was interested in for different people) there was the neatest decorative anchor!

Honey said it was Tarshie’s and I told her to grab it and hold it while I took a photo…while telling her about my “church” story and the blog title for today. Then she looked at me and said that she needed to take my picture…because the initial on it was “B”! A God Wink… Honey said!

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Hope and an anchor…or perhaps strong roots. This is one of my favorite true stories I had on the blog two years ago…hope you enjoy it again!

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Over the years I have told many Christmas tree stories…the perfect ones and the imperfect ones…and I have loved them all. Then  I came across a true story of a lone Christmas tree….told by Charles Kuralt through his popular television series (and later book)…“On the Road.”

While traveling America’ back roads one year he discovered the story behind a tree adopted (by motorists driving by and local townspeople) as their beloved annual Christmas tree.

The strange thing about this tree, that caught one’s attention immediately, was that it grew on the high plateau of the Rockies where neither weather conditions nor soil were conducive to sustainability of life.

Yet it lived….and was considered something of a miracle to the people who took the time to stop and pull over to marvel at this miracle of nature in their midst.

The tree was a juniper and grew beside U.S. 50 all by itself…there was not another tree for miles. Nobody remembers, today, who put the first Christmas tree ornament on it, perhaps a motorist just passing by on a whimsy.

But soon after…others stopped to do the same thing and now by Christmas Day…the tree has transformed into a Christmas Tree…beloved by all who see it and understand its miracle existence.

 

One year it was almost bulldozed down by road workers, widening that stretch of highway…but Kuralt said something stopped them and they decided to start the widening…a few feet away…past the tree. So close to the highway now…that the trucks rattle its branches…but still it survives.

The tree’s closest town neighbors live in Grand Junction on one side and in Delta, Colorado on the other. Both towns love their tree. Each family in these towns have their own Christmas trees, of course, but it is something about this tree, who continues to live, in spite of the odds that makes it “belong to no one and yet everyone.”

Charles Kuralt finishes his Christmas tale by declaring:

” Just looking at it makes you think about how unexpected life on Earth can be. The tree is so lonely and so brave that it seems to offer courage to those who pass it-and a message. It is the Christmas message: that there is life and hope…even in a rough world.”

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So until tomorrow: I saw my own “juniper” survivor in the form of a rose bloom. I looked over at my and Vickie’s rose bush by my side fence…and one lone bud had bloomed…”Lo how a rose ere blooming.” It was so beautiful it took my breath away! Everything else on the bush was dead (dormant) except for this one bud…an example that life and hope endures under the most trying circumstances. A God Wink.

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“Today is my favorite Day”  Winnie the pooh

*(Our little gentleman Rutledge has made sure he is covered for Christmas morning…first the Polar Express Santa, then the “Sneak-up” Santa and now the sleepy-looking Santa…his list should be complete by now!)

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About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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