The snow was falling outside. It was Chislev 19, in Luffinstown, Prulesha. It would soon be....
His Light Is Everywheregiven to Rivqah (bana Shalom) on Chislev 27, 5764 (Rebekah Josepha Coover / 12-21-2003)
"It''s snowing harder, Felicity," said five year old Markie, turning from the window. He walked over to where his older sister was knitting. "Will you hold me?" he asked. Felicity, just barely seventeen years old, laid down her knitting, and took Markie on her lap. She could hear Annie and Ben playing in the livingroom. "Felicity," Markie said, and tears filled his eyes. "Why is Mamma sick? Will she be better by Chanukkah?" Mamma was very sick, and Papa had taken her many miles away, to Mantleburg, where Aunt Anita lived. Aunt Anita knew a great deal about healing, from helping her doctor father, as a young woman. For two weeks now, Papa and Mamma had been gone.
Felicity swallowed hard. "I don''t know, Markie," she said, hugging him. "I wish she wasn''t sick, but I guess it''s Yahweh''s will. There aren''t many days till Chanukkah yet. Honestly, I don''t think she''ll be better by then, but I could be wrong. But we''ll keep it here anyway, the four of us."
"Will we play dreidel?" asked Markie sadly.
"Oh yes," Felicity assured him. "And we''ll have potato latkes, and sing together, and have applesauce, just as always. And we''ll light the ChanukiYah too. You know how the lights burn, Markie? That reminds us of Yahweh''s Light. His Light is everywhere."
"Everywhere?" asked Markie, a little doubtfully. "Even way way far away in Man... Man...?"
"Mantleburg," said Felicity. "Yes, Markie. Yahweh is there in Mantleburg with Papa and Mama, and His Light is shining. His Light is Yahshua. You know, Markie?"
"Yes," he said, laying his head on Felicity''s shoulder. "I wish though..." He did not finish his sentence. Felicity felt something wet fall on her shoulder, and felt tears in her own eyes. "I''m sorry, Markie," she said, and kissed his head. Markie cried for a while, and finally fell asleep. Felicity took him up to bed.
"Annie. Ben," she said, when she reached the bottom of the stairs after tucking Markie in, "Let''s pray together and go to bed, O-K?"
"Already?" asked Annie, who was 8½½, and never wanted to go to bed.
"I think we ought to," Felicity said. "I''m tired, and Markie''s already asleep."
"Let''s go, like Felicity says," Ben said. "Papa and Mamma aren''t here. We ought to obey her."
"Alright," sighed Annie. She seemed to respect 11 year old Ben more than she did Felicity. Felicity knelt by the sofa with the two children. "You pray first," Annie said to her. So Felicity did. She tried not to cry while she did so. She prayed for Mamma and Papa briefly. When Annie prayed, she said, "Dear Yahweh, please be with Mamma and Papa. Help them to have a nice Chanukkah even though they can''t be here with us, and help us to have a nice one too. Selah." She didn''t seem to be sad at all. To her it was just a happening of life. Papa and Mamma were away for a while. Mamma was sick and would soon get better and come back. But Ben took it more seriously. "Yahweh," he prayed, "Help Mamma to get better. Give Aunt Anita wisdom to know what to do to help her, and please heal her, Yahweh." His voice quavered a little. "We love her," he said. "And we love You too."
That night in bed, Felicity prayed and cried a while, after Annie, who slept in the same room, went to sleep. She had done that every night since Papa and Mamma had left. She had never imagined that something like this would happen in their family. Mamma was so sick. She looked very pale to Felicity when she went out the door, leaning on Papa. Before getting in the wagon, she had held Felicity''s hand and said weakly, "You''re sweet, Licity. Thanks for holding down the fort. We''ll be back. Don''t worry about me." Felicity had hugged Mamma, and they both cried. But her fear was this: What if Mamma didn''t come back? They did not know why she was sick, or what the problem was. Every time Felicity thought of Mamma, she inevitably thought of death too. What if Mamma should die? She cried into her pillow.
It was early when Felicity rose to make breakfast. She brushed and braided her hair, and then, before leaving the bedroom, she opened the Scriptures. These words in the Philippians 1 caught her eye. "For to me to live is Messiah, and to die is gain." They were familiar words, but they seemed particularly precious just now. She read on. "If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Messiah, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to esteem in Messiah Yahshua, because of my coming to you again." Hope sparked in Felicity''s heart, like a flame of fire on one of the Hanukkah candles that they would soon light. Was Yahweh telling her that Mamma would live, and would come to them again?
Ben was the first to come into the kitchen that morning, as Felicity was mixing up breakfast cornbread. "Felicity," he said, "Could you tell me something?" He looked at her beseechingly. "Do you think Mamma''s going to get better? She seemed... awful sick when she left? Would it be possible... that she''d be buried in Mantleburg?" He said the awful words so seriously, his eyes pleading for her to say that it was not possible. A tear trickled down his cheek, and one trickled down Felicity''s too.
"Ben," she said, "Look. I''ll show you what I read this morning." She got the Scriptures and read Philippians 1:21-26. Ben listened intently. When Felicity finished, he said with hope, "Do you think she will come again?"
"I think so," said Felicity. "I don''t know, Ben. But Yahweh knows. And it just seems that she will."
"I wish they''d send us a telegram or something," said Ben wistfully. "But maybe they don''t have the money."
"Maybe they do though," Felicity said hopefully. "Maybe we''ll get a message on Chanukkah, saying that she''s getting better. Wouldn''t that be nice, Ben?" She poured the cornbread into a baking dish, and slid it into the oven.
"Yeah, it would be," Ben agreed. "Let''s pray for that."
Those few days until Chanukkah, Felicity and the children prayed every night that if it was Yahweh''s will, they would get just such a telegram on Chislev 25. Felicity tried to be bright and cheerful for the children, too. Sometimes she had her doubts and worries, and she still cried at night. What if, with all their hoping, Papa would write and say that Mamma was dying?
Felicity helped her siblings make blue and white paper chains to decorate for Chanukkah, and they polished the ChanukiYah until it seemed to shine. They purchased anners, small round Pruleshian candies, often used in playing dreidel, in downtown Luffinstown. And they brushed up on a special Chanukkah dance that Mamma had taught them last year. Through it all, Felicity tried to remind herself that Yahweh''s Light was everywhere, and that no matter what the result of Mamma''s sickness, He would continue to shine.
It was late the 24th. The sun would soon set. Annie was pouring homemade applesauce, that had been waiting in the cellar, into a bowl; and Felicity was frying potato latkes. The boys were setting the table. Felicity put the lid on the skillet, so that the latkes would fry quicker, and moved to the window. She looked out wistfully at the sky. The sun was getting lower. Papa had helped to instill in her a love for nature. Nature always went along with your moods. When you were happy, the setting sun looked peaceful and glad. But when you were sad, the rich and beautiful colors streaked over the horizon stirred you to cry. She wanted to be happy. Soon those colors would be streaked there, marking the beginning of a new day, the first day of Chanukkah. But how could she be, with Papa and Mamma many miles away, and Mamma very sick? "Yahweh," she prayed silently, "Let us get that telegram."
Wait! Was that a horse''s hooves she heard? She listened. Could it be? Hope rose in her heart. And yet, even if it was a telegram, she had no guarantee that it was positive. In a few minutes, a horse came galloping into the yard, carrying a young man. "Telegram!" he shouted. "Telegram!" Ben ran out in the yard, screaming, "Is it from Papa and Mama?" Felicity saw the man hand Ben the piece of paper. He read it. She could tell just to look at his face through the window that it was glad news. He came running in the house as fast as he could, while the young man on the horse galloped away. "Read it!" he cried, holding it out. Felicity read the telegram silently, and then out loud. It said, "Mamma is much better. We''re coming home very soon. Love and shalom, Papa."
"Praise Yahweh!" cried Felicity. "Children, isn''t Yahweh wonderful?" She looked out the window again. The sky was beginning to display bright pinks and oranges. Her heart swelled with joy, and the fire of hope and thankfulness burned in her bright and strong.
Shalom, friends in Messiah. Yahweh inspired me to write this Chanukkah story, and it was suggested that I send it out for others to enjoy over the Chanukkah season. If you'd like to share it with others, feel free to. Yahweh bless you all and the remainder of your Chanukkah, as you continue to bless Him with your lives. In Messiah, Sister Rivqah (P.S. Chanukkah reminds me of a song's chorus, "We must go as a light to the nations." Let us remember this, now and always.)