Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bishop Nicholas of Myra

By Madelaine Wong

This Letter to Santa reflects the goodness and hope we have all come to associate with Santa and the true spirit of the holiday season. It's a reminder of the things we should not take for granted. Truly moving and honest.

December, 325 A.D.

Dear Bishop Nicholas of Myra,

Your most humble servant asks for nothing as the anniversary of the birth of our Lord Jesus approaches. I am writing to thank you for saving my life and the lives of my friends, one year ago, today. As you know, we were unjustly condemned by Eustathius, the ruler of Myra, and sentenced to death.

We were, the three of us, held for months without trial in a small cell, starved and beaten, accused of unimaginable crimes. Oh, the misery of that dank, dirty prison. Rats bit our feet while we slept and the guards abused us when we awoke. I must tell you, I preferred the rats. Of course, I don’t have to tell you about the misery. You were also unjustly imprisoned, years ago.

On the day of my arrest, I was pulled away from my potter’s kiln, locked in chains as the neighbours watched and my wife wept. I yelled to my wife to write to you, to beg your assistance. You are known far and wide as a wise and generous man. I still remember how you helped that poor man who could not afford to pay the dowries for his three daughters. They would be suffering in a life of prostitution if not for you. I knew you were a man with a reputation for justice.

I still have nightmares, remembering the day of our execution. We were pulled into the glare of daylight. After spending so much time below ground, the sun was painful to our eyes. Our heavy chains dragged behind us. We were unused to walking after being confined in a cell too small to stand upright. Our bodies were weak and malnourished. The crowd gathered. Their eyes glowed with excitement. They chanted, “Chop off their heads!” They were hungry for blood. I saw my wife, jostled by the crowd; she clasped her hands across her chest. She was praying for me.

They picked me to die first. They told me to bow my head. I did. I awaited death. I admit I almost welcomed it. The executioner raised his sword. I saw the glint of the metal, and squeezed my eyes tight. Death was imminent. Then I heard you shout, “Stop!” I opened my eyes and saw you standing in front of me, your hand grasping the sharp blade of the sword. You stayed the executioner’s hand. I remember you called out, “What good is served by their killing? How is the God of mercy honoured by bloodshed?” You demanded our release and we were unbound.

I collapsed on the ground. I looked up at your face, smiling down at me, your beard as white as snow. I hadn’t the strength then, to offer you thanks. My body, so weak from famine and shock, poor wife and son had to support me on our return home. You never asked me to repay you, and indeed I cannot, being a simple tradesman. All I can offer you now is my sincere thanks.

You will certainly go down in history for your goodness and generosity.

Your friend in Christ


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