I met Ezekiel at the grocery store. On a day when grocery store lines were running about ten carts deep and every available bagger and checker were in position and working hard. Everyone had milk and bread and eggs and frozen pizza and chips and Ravioli and tunafish and Vienna sausage and marshmallows and peanut butter. Rations for an ice storm. Or power outage or both.
Ezekiel did not bounce off the walls or swing on the basket or run back and forth begging for another item. He stood politely and talked to his grandmother about the frozen pizza in their basket and how much fun they were going to have making it for supper. I started chatting with her because I always chat with anyone within hearing distance or non-hearing distance. I do not live in a solemn world.
Then I began talking to Ezekiel. He was also a willing chatter. He was five. He told me about school and the pizza. I asked him if he had been a good boy. Have you ever met a child who wasn't? Yes, he had been good. I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He said he wanted Santa to bring him paints. And some kind of toy I have no knowledge of - maybe a game. He said he was an artist. And he was pleased that I was pleased that he was one. He had done six pictures of his family and he liked to just sit and draw. Smiling, I asked him if he would go home with me. He smiled without hesitation and asked if he could bring his games with him. His grandmother laughed and said she could loan him out. I leaned down and told him that would be fun. Then looking out from under his hood somberly, his bright eyes looked up at me and he whispered in the reverence only reserved for the most special things in a child's life. "I love candy." A smile broke across his face. "But not too much." Chocolate. We agreed that was the best. I told him since he was an artist he could draw pictures of candy. His eyes shot sideways in the new thought. I told him that people have jobs drawing candy packages and cookie and pizza packages. The wheels were spinning. I left there with a little soft spot in my heart for a delightful young man named Ezekiel.
Sarah caught my eye at church. She was standing at the Advent Table with her family as they lit the first candle of the season. She and her brother were a little more than eye level with the velvet covered table holding five candles. Her mother lit one candle. Our pastor began to lead us in prayer. Sarah bowed her head and then looked up. She wasn't looking at the crowd or at her parents or her brother. She was looking straight into the candle as the spark burned on the candle's wick. Her face glowed, reflected in the light of the candle so close to her. The childlike amazement was in her eyes. She barely smiled. I went away from church that morning with a fresh view of the amazement of Christmas.
I have probably never talked to Sarah. I do know her parents. She has certainly not spent time telling me what she wants for Christmas. I don't know if she likes frozen pizza or the color pink or chocolate candy. I do know Sarah walks. But in the fall, with school just starting, she suffered a very rare stroke and her precious young life was almost lost. But now, both sides of her body work like a little girl's body should and she can almost run again.
I think of Mary, barely a young woman. Making a journey to a new land of great difficulty. On a donkey. Better than walking, maybe. Young, with only a new, inexperienced husband for support. No mother or sisters to ease her path. I see her eyes with tears, in excitement, fear and pain. But her husband is steady and confident and protective.
Ezekiel and his talent. His bright eyes smiling. A whisper in his ears - you have the miracle.
Sarah smiling, running. A whisper in her ears - you are a miracle.
Mary, riding into a new life. A whisper in her ears - you carry The Miracle.
May you hear the whisper.