Originally published in Everybody’s Column, Buffalo News, Dec. 6, 2016

Sister BarbaraMay this story brighten our lives and help restore the warmth we experience during the Christmas season, and hopefully throughout the year as well.

As I sat in a chair in the doctor’s office, my dear friend called, “Sister, we can leave now.” A woman sitting to the side of me tipped her head slightly and asked, “Excuse me, did I hear your friend call you sister’?”

I told her I was a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. A serious look came over the woman’s face, which was filled with pain, anguish and tears. She sighed and began to tell me about her husband, who was recently diagnosed with stage four cancer. She brushed away tears slipping down her cheeks as she asked, “How do I tell my children that their father may not be home for Christmas?”

I walked over and laid my hands on her and with trembling lips I began to pray, asking our beloved to give this woman the grace, the strength and the love she would need to get through the Christmas celebration and the days to follow.

For many of us, Christmas will be evergreens on soft, white lawns. But let us remember those who will experience a blue Christmas. I walked away learning something about the meaning of Christmas. We make a life by what we give.

Sister Barbara Whelan, OSF
Depew, New York