A Warm Golden Light

My grandfather suffered a heart attack while returning from his Christmas Eve confession. Grampy died as he hit the sidewalk walking home to our house in the snow. Neighbors carried him in.

I was twelve, and I was devastated. This canít be, I raged. How could God let him die on a cold, lonely sidewalk all alone?

Despite his eighty-four years, I thought my grandfather would be with us forever. He was a widower, a gentleman who always wore a tie to dinner, and a gentle man who lived his faith quietly and well.

Grampyís presents were all wrapped under the tree. His pipe and newspaper were still where he had left them. It was a sad, confusing Christmas. A week later, however, I realized that I had underestimated Godís generosity toward my grandfather.

A parishioner called. She told my mother, "I saw your dad at church on Christmas Eve. I didnít put it all together until I read his death notice, but then I had to call and tell you."

The woman had seen an elderly man leave the confessional and approach the manger by the altar rail. He knelt in prayer, gazing at the statues of Mary and Joseph and the still empty crib.

"There was a warm, golden light that encircled both the manger and your dad," said the caller. "My friend next to me saw it, too. And oh, when he turned there was such a beautiful expression on his face, full of peace and joy. His face was radiant."

Grampy had died minutes later.

The callerís story helped me to realize that God had not let this good and faithful servant die alone. No, God had been there to hear his last whispered confession. From the tabernacle, God had seen him gazing with love at the crŤche. And I was sure God had welcomed Grampy home as he was born into new life that snowy Christmas Eve.

Gail M. Besse Hull, Massachusetts