Posts Tagged ‘x-mas’

The pine tree of St. Martin

a Christmas story by Paulo Coelho

As the parish priest of a little village called St Martin in the French Pyrenees was getting ready to celebrate Mass one Christmas Eve, he began to smell a wonderful fragrance. It was winter, and the flowers had disappeared a long time before, yet there was the pleasant smell of springtime floating through the air. Intrigued, he decided to go outside and look where the smell was coming from and across a young boy sitting in front of the school door. Next to him was a golden Christmas tree. “What a beautiful tree!” said the vicar to the boy, “It seems to have touched the sky, and it gives off such a delightful scent! It’s made of pure gold! Where did you find it?” The young man looked up at the priest, seemingly unhappy with what had been said. “Truth is, the longer it took me to carry this home, the harder the leaves got and the heavier it felt. But it can’t be real gold, and I’m scared of what my parent’s reaction will be.”

The young man continued his story. “This morning, my mother gave me money to go to the city of Tarbes to buy a Christmas tree. When I was going through the village, I saw a lonely old woman who had no family to spend Christmas dinner with. I was certain I would be able to get a good discount on a tree, so I gave her some of the money I had for her to buy herself some dinner. As I continued through the town, I passed by the prison and saw an enormous line of people waiting to go inside to visit their loved ones. I overheard some of them say they did not even have enough money to buy a slice of Christmas fruit cake. I was so moved by these young people waiting in line and I decided I would share some of my money with them too. I gave most of it to them, keeping just a small amount for myself to buy some lunch. The florist I was going to visit was a friend of the family and I was sure that if I promised to work all next week for him, that he would give me the Christmas tree for free. When I reached the market, though, I found out that the florist I knew did not go to work that day. I tried as hard as I could to find someone who would lend me the money I needed to buy the Christmas tree somewhere else, but it was all in vain. Frustrated, I decided that having some lunch would help me clear my head and I walked over to the restaurant counter. As I approached the bar, a foreign-looking little boy asked me if I could spare some change because he hadn’t eaten in two days. I remembered that at one time even Jesus may have gone hungry, and I handed over the little money I had left and began returning home. On my walk back, I broke off a brand from a pine tree and tried to decorate it as well as I could, since I didn’t get the Christmas tree I was supposed to get. But as I continued to walk it just kept getting heavier and heavier and turning into metal, and it’s far from being the Christmas tree that my mother is expecting me to come home with.

“My dear boy”, said the priest, “the perfume that is emanating from this tree leaves no doubt whatsoever that it has been touched by heaven. Let me tell you the rest of its story.” The priest sat down next to the boy and continued, “As soon as you walked away from that lonely woman, she immediately asked the Virgin Mary, a mother like herself, to give you an unexpected blessing. The parents of the prisoners were convinced that they had come across an angel, and said prayers of thanks for the Christmas cakes they were now able to buy. The boy you met at the restaurant gave thanks to god for satiating his hunger. The Virgin, angels and Jesus heard the prayers of those who had been helped and when you broke off the brand from the pine tree, the Virgin bathed it in perfume. As you continued to walk, the angels touched the leaves and they turned to gold. Finally, when everything was complete Jesus looked upon the work and blessed. From now on, whoever touches this tree will have their sins forgiven and their wishes fulfilled.”

The legend goes that the sacred pine tree is still there in St. Martin, and that its force is so great that all who help their brothers on Christmas Eve, however far they may be from the little village in the Pyrenees, are blessed by it.

(Inspired by a Hassidic tale)

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12 2010

a Christmas Tale

bewegend engeltjeDe dingen zijn niet altijd wat ze op het eerste oog lijken. Hiv maakt ons niet tot wie we zijn. Wel hoe we er zelf mee om weten te gaan. En wie onze unieke persoonlijkheid niet zien kan, mist wat. Een inspirerend kerstverhaal van Paul Coelho (bekend van ondermeer ‘De alchemist’). Geschikt voor alle leeftijden en alle (on-)geloven.


A Christmas Story

According to an old and well-known legend, a week before Christmas, Archangel Michael asked his angels to visit the earth. He wanted to know if everything was ready for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. He sent them in pairs, always an older angel accompanying a younger one, so that they could have a broader picture of what happened in Christianity.

One of these pairs was assigned to Brazil, where they arrived late one night. Since they had nowhere to sleep, they took shelter in one of the great mansions that can be seen in certain parts of Rio de Janeiro. The owner, a nobleman on the verge of bankruptcy (which, incidentally, happens to many people in that city), was a fervent Catholic, and soon recognized the heavenly pair by the golden halos on their head. However, he was too busy preparing a big Christmas, and so as not to disturb the completed decorations, he requested that his heavenly guests to sleep in the basement.

Although Greetings cards are always illustrated with snow falling,Christmas falls in the middle of summer in Brazil, the sun was scorching hot and the air, full of moisture, it was almost suffocating. The angels laid down on a hard floor, but before starting their prayers, the older angel noticed a crack in the wall. He got up, repaired it using his divine powers, and returned to his evening prayers. The two felt as though they had spent the night in hell, it was so hot. They slept very poorly, but they needed to fulfill the mission entrusted to them by God.3 engelenThe next day, they went through the big city, with its 12 million inhabitants, its beaches and mountains, its contrasts, its beautiful landscapes and its horrible places. They completed their reports, and when night fell back they began to travel into the country. But, distracted by the difference in hours, they again found themselves with no place to sleep. They knocked on the door of a humble home, where a couple came to meet them. Lacking access to medieval engravings that portrayed the messengers of God, the couple did not recognize the two pilgrims, but told the angels that if they were in need of shelter, the house was theirs. They prepared a dinner, presented their little newborn baby and offered his room to the angels. They apologized that they were poor and that while the heat was great during the day, they had no money to buy an air conditioner.

When the angels awoke the next day they found the couple in tears. Their only possession, a cow that gave milk for cheese, and support for the family, was found dead in their field. They quickly parted with the pilgrims, embarrassed because they could not prepare a breakfast.

While walking through the mud road, the younger angel showed his anger, “I can not understand this way of doing things! The first man had everything he needed, and yet you helped him by repairing his wall. Then with this poor couple, who received us so well and kindly, you did nothing to alleviate their suffering!”

“Things are not what they seem,” said the older angel, “when we were in that awful basement, I noticed there was plenty of gold hidden in the wall of the mansion, left there by a previous owner. The crack was exposing the treasure, and I decided to hide it again, because the landlord did not help those in need. Yesterday, while we slept in the bed the poor couple offered, I noticed that a third guest had arrived, the angel of death. He had been sent to take the child, but since I’ve known him for many years, I convinced him to take the life of the cow in its place.”escher

Remember the day that is about to be celebrated; since people didn’t give much value to appearance, no one wanted to take Mary in. But the pastors welcomed her, and because of that, they had the grace to be the first to behold the smile of the Savior of the World. 


12 2009