Brody: A sacred holiday message

Published 12:26 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018

You know, just about everything possible has been written about Christmas and why we celebrate it.

I could tell you 1,000 stories that have happened to me and my family at this time of year.

Most of them are about love and giving and the joy of watching my children whose hearts are filled with wonder and surprise.

The very fact they believed in the story of Santa coming to their house and receiving presents from him is so sweet and wonderful that somehow, I believe right along with them.

Sometimes I have let my mind get stuck on how much I dislike the commercialism that has somehow attached itself to the gift giving.

I always work hard each year to white out those thoughts and remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

The thing is, Christmas is simply the celebration of the birth of a baby in a manger. It is about two weary travelers named Mary and Joseph who realized they could go no further. God had chosen that very night to send his son through Mary to enter this world.

There. What else can I say? We all know the story.

One night, a week before Christmas Eve, I was in our big high bed mulling all of this when I remembered a true story my husband, Gene, told me.

With his eyes closed and as he held my hand this is what he said:

It was Christmas Eve 1944. I was desperately ill with pneumonia in an Army hospital in France.

Right next door to the hospital was a prisoner of war camp filled with German soldiers who were either captured or surrendered themselves to us. They often did menial jobs in the hospital.

As sick as I was, I and all the other American soldier patients were so homesick and especially at Christmas time.

There were none of the things they were used to — sugar cookies, ringing bells and especially Christmas music. There was no loving family around to share it all with.

Lights were out for the night and each man was left with his own memories of Christmas. Muffled cries into pillows could be heard, but otherwise, the room was silent.

Suddenly, a sound, a sweet heart-touching sound began softly.

The patients stirred in their narrowed beds when they listened.

I said it felt like a dream and the listening brought tears and smiles that seemed to lift each ill man out of his pain and fear even if only for a moment.

I laid in my bed, fever raging, coughing with every breath.

Slowly, I realized what we were hearing was beautiful Christmas music being sung in German by the German prisoners of war.

They sang “Silent Night” and it was like a sweet, sweet moment in the middle of the night during a violent, raging war in a foreign land.

It was a gift of music from German prisoners for the wounded and ill American soldiers who were the enemy.

People are people. Music is a universal connection. So our boys while fighting for their country were wounded and ill on Christmas Eve 1944. They lay motionless, listening, remembering, wondering and praying as the music so familiar and dear reached deep inside their hearts as a soothing sacred healer. They heard:

“Stille Nacht, Heil’ge Nacht,

Alles schlaft; einsam wacht,

Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.

Holder Knab im lockigen Haar,

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!”

Now, as I ponder the real meaning of Christmas in 2018, it makes me understand the true meaning of love. Maybe this year we can try to love the way God loves.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.