Traditionally, Christmas Eve in my hometown was C.O.L.D. The first breath taken once I was out the front door just about produced lung-sicles. It was painful. The snow crunched underfoot and almost always there were a few flakes of the white stuff gently falling. My dad and I always walked the four and a half blocks between our place and the church together. He put his car up on blocks in the garage during the winter, which probably explains why a second-hand ’54 Ford lasted twenty years! But I digress.
My father wasn’t a talkative man so the walk to the Christmas Eve service was a quiet one. But that was part of its charm. The snow crunched underfoot. The air was cold and crisp. The snow was gentle and sparkled under the streetlights. Cars passed almost silently. In those days the city didn’t spread a lot of sand and salt around and turn the snow in noisy, messy slush. Then the streets were packed snow that created a great noise buffer. A lot of people put up lights on their houses and an equal number had wood stoves and I could smell the scent of wood burning and see the smoke hanging in the cold air—something I love to this day. Chimes ringing out Christmas music could be heard coming from several churches. And Dad and I would crunch along in companionable silence. I loved to walk to church with him on Christmas Eve.
I spent a lot of Christmases away from my family while I was overseas, a lot of green and hot Christmases. It probably wouldn’t have mattered if Dad and I had been crunching along snowy streets listening to church bells and smelling wood smoke, or if we had been shuffling through sand on a beach listening to waves rushing in and smelling night-blooming flowers. I have a feeling that with or without the winter wonderland, the walk to church with Dad would have always been special. There’s nothing like the quiet companionship of the father you love, and who loves you, whatever the circumstances.
There are lots of Biblical characters about whom we know very little. One of those is a man named Enoch. We know he lived a long time and had lots of kids. But those circumstances aren’t what made Enoch significant in God’s story as recorded for us in the Bible. Genesis 5:24 (NIV) says: “Enoch walked with God, then he was no more, because God took him away.”
“Enoch walked with God.”
Can you picture it? God is Spirit but His presence to Enoch was so palpable that it seemed as though they were companions together as Enoch walked through life. The idea of walking with God in quiet companionship is not so improbable. Now that I am living in my hometown again, and despite the fact that my father has gone on to glory, I can still feel him crunching along beside me on the way to church on Christmas Eve.
I have a prayer for 2012. I pray that I will be more conscious of the quiet companionship of God walking beside me in this coming year than I have ever been before. Someday, someone might say of me: “Lynda walked with God, then she was no more, because God took her away.”
Now wouldn’t that be a great epitaph? And isn’t that a great aspiration?