I received this in an email today. It's supposed to be a true story. Whether it is or not it is something to think about.
The "Old One"
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 her anyway?"
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 from us.
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
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.