The Best Christmas Gift

For a Christmas Meditation I’m pleased that my very dear friends, Bill and Peg Hull, gave me permission to share their Christmas letter with you. It is one of the very best personal reflections of applying the Christmas story to a real life journey I’ve ever heard. So with gratitude for the good news of the season and this particular good news, here is their gift.

The year 2014 has been a journey in the Hull house. At times it was akin to the journey of the Magi, trekking through the dark of night, focused on the leading of the Star. But, there must have been nights when the clouds obscured the light of the Star. What did the Magi do then? Did they keep on, hoping they were going in the right direction, or did they stop and wait for the Star to reappear?

There were times in the last year when the Star was difficult to spot from our house. Peg was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013. We were assured that it was a gradual process that could be controlled with medication. After all, look at Michael J. Fox leading an active and relatively normal life. We could see the Star.

Then suddenly Peg’s health began to fail. In a matter of a few months she regressed from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair. At the same time, the cognitive ability of her wonderful mind slipped, sometimes dramatically. Her doctors began to question her diagnosis until they conceded that they were stumped.

In the midst of that process, our older son Bryan had a fire in his mobile home. The blessing was that he was not injured. The bad news was that his home was left unlivable. The night was pretty cloudy.

Then we received an early Christmas present. We had been going to the University of Michigan’s geriatric neurology clinic. As something of a long shot the doctors decided that her rapid decline might be the result of an extremely rare hypersensitivity to one of her medications. They gradually removed the medication and the result was a near-miraculous improvement in her physical and mental condition.

Was it a miracle? It depends on your definition of a miracle. Hundreds of times I have stood at the bedside of the sick and prayed, “Lord, we know that all healing comes from you in whatever form it comes.” Whether prayer or prescription, sacrament or surgery, it is God who provides the healing.

The Star is back. Really, it was there all the time. Indeed, when the night was the darkest, it shone the brightest. It was just that, at times, the clouds of discouragement and desperation blocked its light.
Thanks to their caring determination love became incarnate again, in and through the doctors at the clinic. I don’t know anything about their beliefs, but I believe as did John Wesley that God is at work in the life of every human being. Again, Love came down at Christmas. Jesus was the greatest gift ever, but he told us that there would be another Advocate, another Comforter when He returned to the Father. I believe that Advocate was/is at work through the skills and just as importantly through the caring of the doctors. It is the best Christmas gift we have ever gotten.
Thanks be to God for this wonderful gift and for the One who was and is and forever will be the author and bringer of all good gifts. May the Love of God come down again to you in whatever specific way is best in this special season.

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