The Widow and Her Son XXI
Night fell over North Lebanon and snow was covering the villages surrounded by the Kadeesha Valley, giving the fields and prairies the appearance of a great sheet of parchment upon which the furious Nature was recording her many deeds.
Men came home from the streets while silence engulfed the night.
In a lone house near those villages lived a woman who sat by her fireside spinning wool, and at her side was her only child, staring now at the fire and then at his mother.
A terrible roar of thunder shook the house and the little boy shook with fright.
He threw his arms about his mother, seeking protection from Nature in her affection.
She took him to her bosom and kissed him; then she say him on her lap and said, "Do not fear, my son, for Nature is but comparing her great power to man's weakness.
There is a Supreme Being beyond the falling snow and the heavy clouds and the blowing wind, and He knows the needs of the earth, for He made it; and He looks upon the weak with merciful eyes.
"Be brave, my boy.
Nature smiles in Spring and laughs in Summer and yawns in Autumn, but now she is weeping; and with her tears she waters life, hidden under the earth.
"Sleep, my dear child; your father is viewing us from Eternity.
The snow and thunder bring us closer to him at this time.
"Sleep, my beloved, for this white blanket which makes us cold, keeps the seeds warm, and these war-like things will produce beautiful flowers when Nisan comes.
"Thus, my child, man cannot reap love until after sad and revealing separation, and bitter patience, and desperate hardship.
Sleep, my little boy; sweet dreams will find your soul who is unafraid of the terrible darkness of night and the biting frost.
The little boy looked upon his mother with sleep-laden eyes and said, "Mother, my eyes are heavy, but I cannot go to bed without saying my prayer.
The woman looked at his angelic face, her vision blurred by misted eyes, and said, "Repeat with me, my boy - 'God, have mercy on the poor and protect them from the winter; warm their thin-clad bodies with Thy merciful hands; look upon the orphans who are sleeping in wretched houses, suffering from hunger and cold.
Hear, oh Lord, the call of widows who are helpless and shivering with fear for their young.
Open, oh Lord, the hearts of all humans, that they may see the misery of the weak.
Have mercy upon the sufferers who knock on doors, and lead the wayfarers into warm places.
Watch, oh Lord, over the little birds and protect the trees and fields from the anger of the storm; for Thou art merciful and full of love.
As Slumber captured the boy's spirit, his mother placed him in the bed and kissed his eyes with quivering lips.
Then she went back and sat by the hearth, spinning the wool to make him raiment.