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Viewpoint: Only At Christmas

By Dennis Edwards
Editorial Page Columnist
New Journal and Guide

Some moments in life happen to us. Others happen through us. Either way we need to take appropriate time to consider the happening and those whose lives are influenced or affected.
Over the last year I’ve pondered a life confirming Epiphany from last Christmas Eve. “A manifestation of the Divine” “in a startlingly common, subtle and defining way.” The kind of life revelation that shakes the very soul “from center to circumference” while confirming in the clearest possible way that The Lord is guiding us every day of our lives.

It all started with a long prayerful walk over to Virginia Beach’s Town Center area. After what some of us go through in life prayerful walks may be the only respite from insanity.
There was window browsing, a favorite bookstore sweep, the requisite Starbucks stop and a decision to take a seat around a colorful metal outdoor table beneath its heavy umbrella on Fountain Plaza.

Isn’t it amazing how much fun watching people on Christmas Eve can be? You can see the quality of relationships, the caring and kindness woven into souls who just want to make the loves of their lives happy. Perhaps most precious are the moments no one’s supposed to see.

Glances, frozen in time, seem to say I love you and only you. The kind of moment lovers never forget and others are left to envy.

So the time came to take that long walk back home. While easing along a sparsely populated side street, The Lord said “go back, go back to where you were.” Puzzled, I turned around and went to the same seat beneath what felt like an old friend.

About 10 maybe 15 minutes later, two of the cutest little girls swept through the plaza. In pigtails and pink, these mini sisters, maybe 4 and six years old, attacked the fountain with all the joyous anticipation of a visit from Santa. They tested the boundaries of where they should play. So I felt comfortable telling them not to stray too far from their mother.

The oldest eventually eased off to play with a larger girl on a hover board. The youngest used uncoordinated steps to run back and forth across the fountains front as her mother and I watched from opposite sides of the plaza.

Then suddenly, as if from out of nowhere, she became flawlessly coordinated. She took off running to the opposite side then rounded the fountain’s corner toward a busy street. I eased from the other end to head her off. Mom was in pursuit. Her littlest angel was sprinting for the crosswalk as a car came barreling from the left. Another moved in from the right. Just as she got to the curb I found myself shouting “STOP LITTLE GIRL, STOP RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE!.”

Startled, she did just that. The cars passed harmlessly by. She ran away from her mother, perhaps knowing Mom was gonna deal with her. There was a panicked “thank you so much. I don’t know what got into her.”

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Rattled, I wandered back to the table. Ten minutes later, The Lord said, “ You can go now.”

Just think of the domino effect the worst that could happen might have produced. How a family would have literally been torn apart by a tragedy with the potential to ruin a marriage, a household and countless other lives as well as Christmas memories for a lifetime.

Because of this experience, I’ll appreciate the Christmas Magi even more for the rest of my life. They, too, learned how “obedience is better than sacrifice.”

“So being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they departed and went home another way.”

Who says, The Lord’s not with you and me this Christmas “and he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me …”

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Television Journalist who’s worked in Detroit, Baltimore, St. Louis, Richmond and as a Freelance Correspondent for CNN. He’s a graduate of Virginia Union University and its Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology.

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