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04 December 2016

Sunday Psalms: The Color Red

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Merry Christmas to all our readers! Here’s a seasonal story from last year that we’d like to share again. We hope you enjoy The Color Red.

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Sunday Psalms: Fictional Narratives Inspired by the Psalms, Proverbs, & Other Biblical Works

In his forty-three years,Thomas had become familiar with the color red. He first recalled seeing red at the age of seven when his father came home, drunk out of his mind. Then there were the red tail lights when his wife drove off and left him for his best friend. Blood had flowed everywhere on the front lines, poured out during all those fights in the prison yard…Oh, Thomas had seen red alright.

Unfortunately for Thomas, the day after Halloween signaled an endless stream of red: stockings and sweaters, Santas and sleighs. There were cranberries and cookies, wreaths and ribbons. Everywhere he looked there was some decoration screaming out a crimson message that made him want to run. This year, he considered leaving the city. Why not rent a cabin for the month and escape? But that would take energy. And so, Thomas decided to spend the holidays with his television and a beer-stocked fridge.

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On the morning after Thanksgiving, Thomas pulled himself away from the television long enough to wheel his garbage can out to the curb and holler at his neighbor.

“What is wrong with you, Phil? Looks like Santa’s elves vomited all over your lawn.”

Phil was one of those festive buffoons Thomas liked to avoid. Every year, Phil had his tree up before Black Friday breakfast. He always managed to litter the front yard with more red and green lights than ought to be legal. Currently, Phil was maneuvering a massive inflatable teddy bear that was completely absurd. A puffed-up illusion of cheer and goodwill. As he looked inside his rusty mailbox, Thomas wondered what would happen if the teddy bear met with an unfortunate accident.

“Wrong with me?” Phil asked good-naturedly. “I’m not the one who hasn’t showered in a week.”

Thomas quickly tried to smooth his disheveled hair and smooth out the wrinkles in his plaid pajamas. “Where’s Mrs. Christmas?” he asked, casually wandering across the street. “Inside baking or something?” The only person more in love with Christmas than Phil was the man’s wife.

“Katie?” Phil turned away from the bear and gave Thomas a strange look. “Guess you didn’t hear.”

“Hear what?” Thomas asked, half-interested as he perused a pile of grinning elves and gallant reindeer awaiting their ordained place on the lawn.

“Katie died a few weeks ago,” Phil said quietly and turned back to adjust the bear.

“What?! What do you mean, Katie died? What happened?” Thomas didn’t mean to sound that intense. He felt guilty for being cooped up inside the house, for all the drinking and smoking. But how could he have known what was going on across the street?

“Car accident,” Phil simply said, and before he realized it, Thomas was helping him wrap twinkling lights around the bushes. It was the least he could. He forgot he was wearing slippers and clothes that hadn’t been changed since Tuesday. And Phil didn’t seem to mind.

“Why are you doing this?” Thomas eventually asked. “Putting up all this crap and everything? Your wife just died.” He gave Phil a cautious glance. The man was undeterred. His face actually brightened at the question.

“You know how much Katie loved Christmas. She made me promise to keep on decorating. Keep celebrating, even after she was gone.”

“You got to talk to her before–before–?” Thomas gave an awkward cough. He wasn’t quite sure how to say it, and he did not want Phil to start crying right there in the front yard.

“Yeah,” Phil graciously stepped in. “Had about five minutes with her before she went into surgery. I knew she wouldn’t make it out of the operating room. So did she.”

No. This wasn’t right. As Phil talked about those last moments with his wife, Thomas felt like he was intruding on a private conversation. This whole interaction was more than he had bargained for. Shoot, he’d only emerged from his television coma to roll out the garbage.

“Well, I’d better go, Phil.”

“Hang on.” Phil held up a hand then darted into the house, leaving the front door open. Holiday music wafted out the front door. Of course he was playing White Christmas. Thomas hated that movie, hated that song. He wished he’d let the garbage sit another week.

A Buick station wagon with a Christmas tree tied to the roof drove past, and Thomas felt the cold set in. He considered ditching Phil, but before the rich voice of Bing Crosby had finished the chorus, Phil was back, holding a neatly wrapped package with a monstrous bow. A red one. Red paper too.

“Phil, really…You shouldn’t have,” Thomas groaned. He wished himself back in his slovenly den, watching Rambo and popping a beer.

“I didn’t. It’s from Katie. Does all her shopping early.”

“What is it?” Thomas asked suspiciously. He wasn’t sure how he felt about accepting a gift from a dead woman.

“Guess you’ll have to wait until Christmas. Katie would have wanted it that way, never let me open my packages early,” Phil said, his eyes tearing up.

Before Thomas could stop it, the brilliant red package was in his hands. He could feel the tension in his shoulders dissipate, sense his jaw unclench, and for the first time, Thomas saw a very different shade of red.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, according to Your word to Your servant. Psalm 119:76 (NASB)

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NASB)

No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12 (NASB)

-Read Previous Sunday Psalms from Season Two: Episode 1Episode 2, Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5,Episode 6, Episode 7, Episode 8Episode 9, Episode 10, Episode 11, Episode 12, Episode 13, Episode 14, Episode 15, Episode 16,  Episode 17, Episode 18, Episode 19

Written by Heidi Sadler, Inspired by Psalm 119:76, John 3:16, & 1 John 4:12. © 2015, 2016 Heidi Sadler, All Rights Reserved. “Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

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