Saturday, December 24, 2011
I once had a client, call him Edward, who had been born on Christmas day in the Irish trouble spot of Belfast. There were then unwritten laws dividing spheres of influence in the city between Protestant and Catholic. Intense fighting, bombing and gunfire.
Edward's pregnant Protestant mother found herself in the wrong part of town as the birth pangs came on, with only a couple of friends in the same predicament and able to help.
It was Christmas and surely there would be some kind of reprieve in suspicions and hostility. A Catholic family was informed, and reluctantly they agreed to ask some quick questions about how a transport might be arranged. In short order that family learned that another pregnant mother, a Catholic one, was in the same condition, and stuck in the Protestant side of the city.
A truce and an exchange were arranged in the darkness of night for the "Christmas babies and mothers". The memory of the Christ child had been sufficiently compelling. Shortly thereafter, of course, they would all resume the shootings, arson and skirmishes.
Edward told me that years later, all grown up and attending a Christmas party in Toronto, he would meet another man from Belfast of the same age. Guess who he was? Now also a Canadian citizen, with the perils of Ulster far behind.
Truly, God's caring eyes and helping hands can be brought down to a very small point of focus. For anyone. Anywhere.