Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Christmas Bell

     There was once a little boy who was blind. One day he was sitting on a big stone at the edge of the road, quietly resting.  He really didn't have anything to do or anywhere to go or anyone to lead him that wintry afternoon.  His little playmates had gone off to explore a cave and didn't want to take him because he might get hurt. His parents wouldn't be coming home from their work for another hour or two, but he didn't mind. 
     Because he couldn't see, the little boy had learned to listen very carefully to everything around him.  His ears could tell him what was happening.  He liked sitting by the road and hearing the footsteps going by.  He liked to listen and wonder who was passing and where they were going. It was a game he played alone. 
     But today the footsteps didn't sound like they did on ordinary days. There were many more than usual and they seemed to be hurrying and all going in one direction. There was excitement in the air as if something strange and mystical had happened. 
    The little boy grew curious.  He tried to hear what the hurrying persons were saying.
    "The shepherds saw a great light and heard hundreds of voices singing praises to God!" 
    "An angel told them to go into Bethlehem and find a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger!" 
    "Half of the shepherds are staying with the sheep and we are going to find the Baby."
     All these things he heard.
    "Oh, I want to go, too!"  Please take me with you," cried the little boy, but no one heard.  "Please, someone, please show me the way! I want to find the Christ child and worship him, too!" he called out, over and over.  But the crowd was so eager to find the Baby in the manger that no one stopped to listen to the boy.  No one noticed the little boy who couldn't see, seated on a stone as the edge of the road. 
    Most of the crowd passed by and everything grew quiet. Then the little boy heard a faint tinkling sound.  It sounded again. He listened with his very keen ears. It sounded like a bell!  Yes, it was a bell, the kind sheep and cows wear around their necks to tell the shepherd where they are. 
    "Maybe the bell is on a cow or a sheep in the the stable where the Baby is," he thought.
     Slipping carefully down from the rock, the little boy walked slowly toward the sound of the bell. Sometimes he had to stop and listen until the bell rang again, and then he would follow it farther. 
    It wasn't long before he found himself in the stable, standing beside the animal with the tinkling bell.  He reached his hands and felt the animal all over. It was a big, kind cow.  When the cow felt the hands of the boy around her neck, she nudged him over to the place where the baby Jesus was sleeping in the manger.  Then the little boy knelt down and reached out to touch the Christ child and bless him with his prayer.  "Thanks for the kind, big cow and her bell, which helped me find the way," he prayed. 
    Bells have always rung out the glad tidings of Christ's birth. By the Middle Ages, around the years 800 to 1200, the pealing of bells was the main event of the Christmas celebration. In Italy, it is traditional to wait for the bells to chime before lighting the candles and beginning the festivities.
    The bells that ring out from every tower and steeple all over the world tell the message of God's love coming down to earth on Christmas Day.

                                                                                                                                ~Author Unknown

*dedicated to a family who cherishes the sound of Christmas bells, as their son first heard the sound of bells only after he received the amazing gift of hearing with cochlear implants