A brother and sister had made their usual hurried,
obligatory pre- Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt
their elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The farm
was where they had grown up and had been named Lone Pine Farm
because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the
farm. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the
old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The
young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but
the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their
lives, and called them away to a different life.
The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years
had taken their toll, and getting out to the barn on those
frosty mornings was getting harder, but it gave them a reason to
get up in the mornings and a reason to live. They sold a few
foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the
morning and contentment at day's end.
Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple
confronted the old folks "Why do you not at least dispose of
The Old One." She is no longer of use to you. It's been years
since you've had foals from her. You should cut corners and save
so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn out
horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep
The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the
toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, " Yes, I could use
a pair of new boots.
His arm slid defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew
her near with gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her
ears. He replied softly, "We keep her because of love. Nothing
else, just love."
Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man
and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city
as darkness stole through the valley.
The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not
been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it
that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love
that filled their hearts?
So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one
noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old
barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the "Old One".
In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the
hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry
of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call
for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses.
But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him
back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's
fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her
arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.
By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking,
glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted
from their grief, huddled together before the barn. They were
speechless as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They
nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could
do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head
upon his shoulders as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her
tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he whispered, "We have
lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas.
Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where
we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down
upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and
pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken
And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the
snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of
his old and withered hand.
The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the
steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest
of the hill, they paused to rest, looking up to the top of the
hill the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement
at the incredible beauty before them.
Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was
caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their
beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised
on its top most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened
like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas
tree such as this. They were breathless as the old man held his
wife tighter in his arms.
Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible
joy. Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and
pulled her forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent
glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was
their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening in the night light.
Bedded down about the "Old One" close to the trunk of the
tree, was the entire herd, safe.
At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar
with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and
with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the
hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were
frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back
at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under
them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The
mares that were in foal with a new years crop of babies, pressed
uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill
and to safety beneath the pine. And now she lay among them and
gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife.
Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was
brittle with years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes
were filled with devotion as she offered her gift---
Because of love. Only Because of love.
Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and
joy... And again the peace of love filled their hearts.