While walking Ebenezer, kept the images of the man and his family under the bridge in his head, just as the spirit of Christmas Present had shown him the night before. When he reached the bridge, he could recognize it immediately; without hesitation, he began to descend the steep path in search of that man. As Ebenezer was under the bridge, he encountered terrible sights that could easily reach the heart of any sensitive person to human pain and thought,
“how could I remain insensitive to this situation for so many years?” The change that Christmas spirits had achieved in Ebenezer’s heart was evident , since he was feeling pain caused by the suffering of others when there is feelings of, love and charity in a person who does not judge, does not discriminate and does not criticize what his eyes look at; because his soul has learned with experience to observe without intention of evil, only with love and willingness to help with good deeds in favor of his neighbor. Ebenezer began to look for the man with his eyes and his eyes met an old woman sitting on a rock, with her bare feet, her trembling hands, her eyes turned off and without light, she had as a bed a cardboard box open on both sides and covered the cold with a piece of cloth torn by continuous use.
Ebenezer approached her and tears rolled down her cheeks when he asked her, “Madam, what are you doing here? Being able to be in a shelter and have a roof that would protect you from the cold”. The old woman looked up and making a face with her mouth, she tried to smile, “I can’t walk anymore, my legs don’t answer me, I can’t go up the road to go anywhere. I had three children, but they died as children, my husband died when a carriage hit him and I have only the people around us, they bring food and share it with me when they can do it. At my age I have only memories of a life that no longer exists.”
The old woman’s words touched Ebenezer’s heart, then he continues to look for the man with his eyes and suddenly he saw a woman who was arriving holding a large basket with her hands. He could see that the basket weighed because it was difficult for the woman to hold it. Ebenezer walked towards her and, seeing her closely, recognized her, she was the woman who sold roses and bread in one of the streets near the store where they sold turkeys, her appearance was very modest, and her three children followed her. The woman placed the basket on the floor and with the help of her children began to distribute bread among the beggars who were under the bridge. Ebenezer meditated, “How is it possible that this woman distributes bread to others when she is needing help herself?” Suddenly a little hand touched his suit and one of the children in a sweet voice spoke to him as he extended his hand offering him a bread, “God bless you sir and may this bread help you to calm your hunger.” Ebenezer, without saying anything, received the bread and observed that the woman and her children were retiring after giving bread to everyone. Just then, when the woman was retiring, Ebenezer observed that the man he was looking for was arriving with his family, without wasting time Ebenezer approached them.
The man and his wife argued about the conditions of the shelter for the needy, while looking for a place to rest. Ebenezer greeted them, “Good morning, what is the problem of staying in a shelter?”
The man with a gesture of disgust replied, “From your appearance, I can say that you have never visited a shelter and therefore ask me, what is the problem of staying in one of them? Well, let me tell you that I prefer to die here cold than to stay in one of those shelters, smelly, careless and where the food they serve is horrible.”
Ebenezer observing the man’s wife and his children said, “It seems perfect that you want to die of cold, because it is your choice. But why do you drag your family with your decision so that they die of cold with you?”
“I did not choose to be here. I lost my job a few days ago. Since then I have searched everywhere and knocked on many doors. But nobody has wanted to give me a chance to show that I am prepared to develop any job. All I have asked for, is one opportunity to work to support my family,” the man replied.
Ebenezer shook his head in disapproval and then looking into the man’s eyes saying, “I know you are a good man, but you are making the wrong decisions. You are acting selfishly when thinking about what you want or consider is the best for you, but you are not thinking clearly about what is best for your whole family. Do you want a job? Do not stop and keep looking. But leave pride on the side and take advantage of the resources at your disposal to achieve your purpose. Lean on those resources to achieve what you want to have. It is cold here under this bridge and when night comes everyone will feel they freeze. I am not a fortune teller, but I can tell you that later you will go out to look for food and beg for money. Then, you will only find a piece of wood to light a bonfire that will be extinguished along with your desire to provide for your family that will suffer the consequences of your decisions. If the shelter is dirty and it smells badly, do your part, work on cleaning the facilities so that the environment is better. Receive the food they give you with gratitude and enjoy it as if it were a feast. After all, they are giving it to you for free. An old bed in a cold and ugly room can become a fire that will not easily extinguish if you fill it with the warmth of your family. No matter if the conditions are precarious, better to think it will be for a short period of time. But they will keep you safe and you can keep your health to keep looking for that job you want to find. Do not see the negative, learn to observe all the good that you can find with a positive attitude.”
The man became annoyed with Ebenezer’s words and responded angrily in his words, “It is easy for you to speak, because your elegant appearance does not allow you to understand what I feel in my heart as I see the suffering of my family.”
Ebenezer told him, “I know, that an injured heart can learn to hate and resent everything around it and easily forget that love is the best fuel to sustain, feed and care for our loved ones, but if you leave your hostile attitude, I can help you. ”
The man ducked his head, sighed deeply and then asked, “How can you help me?”
With a smile on his lips Ebenezer replied, “I have an employee who will soon cease to be. His job will be empty, and I need someone with the best disposition to be my apprentice in business. You can be that man who replaces my employee, if you are willing to work in my company. Today is Christmas, but tomorrow you can start working with me if you want to.”
The man’s attitude changed completely, and he began to cry like a child, then thanked Ebenezer and hugged his wife tightly as his children approached them happily for what they had heard. Then Ebenezer told them, “Go back to the shelter and start cleaning everything, talk to people here and help those who need it so that everyone can find a place in the shelter. I will send you food tonight, to prepare a Christmas dinner. Tomorrow I will come by for you to go to my office, your wife can also work in the shelter changing living conditions in there and will receive a salary for her work.”
The man and his wife began to convince everyone who was sheltering under the bridge to move to the shelter, while Ebenezer began to walk uphill in search of what he considered his greatest challenge. Talking to people he didn’t know, and correcting mistakes made with his friends were no difficult task to do but having the courage to search and talk head-on with Belle without breaking down; that would be a very big challenge to perform. Ebenezer sighed deeply, arming himself with courage, as he went out in search of the only woman his heart had loved.
TO BE CONTINUE…