なにかが見えてくる
Mat's メルマガ


===== ☆ =============================================== ☆ No. 4 ===
     ☆☆                  << 心に響く話 >>
    ☆★☆             -- なにかが見えてくる --
   ☆★★☆                   by Mat
- ☆☆☆☆☆ --------------------------------------- 2010/04/06 ☆ --

最近はいやなニュースばかり耳に飛び込んできて、いやな世の中だという思い
にかられてしまいますが、そのような思いを拭い去るような、心に響くステキ
な話を集めてみました。これらの話の中に世の中の明るさを見出し、人の心の
温かさに触れてみてください。そして、何かを考えるきっかけにしていただけ
れば大変うれしく思います。

******************
**  心に響く話  ** (from Chicken Soup Newsletter)
******************
(ホームページ上ではオンライン辞書を引けるようにもなっています)

The Unexpected Gift
By W. W. Meade

First the snow came lightly. I watched it out of the window, the 
flakes flying in the wind the bus made as it sped from Cincinnati, 
where we lived, to Canton, Ohio, where we were going to spend 
Christmas with my uncle and cousins.  My brother and I were traveling 
alone because our parents were on the way from Pittsburgh, where they 
had gone to take care of things after my grandmother died.  It was a 
family emergency and though my mother did not like the idea of 
leaving us with her best friend, or having us travel alone, she did 
not have much choice. 

Soon we would all be together in my uncle's house playing the rowdy 
games and eating too many sugar cookies, which my Aunt Alice made in 
the shape of snowmen.  They always had little stubby hands and feet 
too.  For some reason I liked to eat the feet first.  My brother 
always ate the cherry nose. 

I had the window seat for this leg of the trip.  My mother always 
made us trade off to avoid fighting about it and we did that even 
when we were by ourselves.  There was a very big woman sitting across 
from us who talked to us at the last stop.  She thought we were young 
to be traveling alone and she bought us each a doughnut even though 
she seemed poor.  Her name, she said, was Mrs. Margaret Mills and her 
husband was dead.  I don't know why she told us that. 

Before long the snow got heavier and heavier and the bus began to 
slow down.  It slowed and slowed and before long it was just kind of 
crawling along and the world outside had turned completely white.  I 
heard the driver talking on his radio about what we should do.  So I 
woke up my brother in case we were about to hit a snowdrift and be 
boarded by bandits.  He always hoped for some big adventure that just 
never seemed to come our way.  Now might be his chance, I thought. 

The other passengers began to stir about and go stand in line for the 
bathroom and make each other nervous.  I gave my brother my seat and 
he kept his face plastered to the glass. 

"Look, look," he would say every once in awhile.  "More snow.  More 
snow."  

It was about an hour later that we eased into a gas station that had 
a little restaurant shaped like a railroad car attached to it.  We 
all bundled up as best we could, pulled our hats down over our ears 
and ran for shelter.  The wind was making a very weird sound...like a 
bird screeching.  Finally we were all inside and the bus driver told 
us we were likely to have to spend the night here and might make it 
out in the morning if the storm stopped and the plows came through. 

Now I was frightened and my brother was crying.  I told him we would 
be all right and the weird woman took us to the counter and ordered 
hot chocolate.  My mother had pinned a card inside my coat pocket - 
she pinned it there because I was always losing things I needed, like 
mittens - with my uncle's name, address and phone number. 

While we were having hot chocolate, the bus driver asked us if we had 
a phone number for whoever was going to meet us and I gave him the 
card. 

People were very upset.  After all, we were about to spend Christmas 
with a handful of strangers and no one wanted to do that.  All the 
joy and anticipation of being with family and friends was replaced by 
disappointment and sadness.  We were a sorry lot.  Some people drank 
coffee and some ate chicken salad sandwiches and some just sat 
staring at their folded hands. 

I wanted to talk to my parents, and just as I had that thought, the 
bus driver called me and I went to the phone.  He had my aunt on the 
line.  My parents were out at church with my cousins and Aunt Alice 
was very calm about our situation.  She said we would be all right 
and that we should do what the bus driver said.  And that we should 
not leave the place where we were because my family would come get us 
in the morning when the roads were plowed. 

That made me feel a lot better.  But my brother was hard to console.  
He wanted to be home, to be singing carols while Aunt Alice played 
the piano, to be having the kind of Christmas Eve we loved.  I didn't 
know what to do to help him and it was beginning to make me mad that 
he was crying all the time. 

Then a strange thing happened.  People began to talk to each other 
and to us.  And then they began to laugh and tell stories about their 
families and where they'd been and where they were going.  The man 
who owned the restaurant turned on the lights of the Christmas tree 
he had in the corner of the room.  They were shaped like candles.  
And together with the colored lights that bordered the big front 
window, the room began to seem a little festive.  I hoped it all 
would cheer my brother up, but it did not. 

"What are we going to do?  I want to see Mama, I want to have cookies,
I want to sing the manger song with Aunt Alice, I...I..." and then 
he would lean against me and cry some more. 

The weird woman watched us from time to time.  I thought she disliked 
his sniveling as much as I did, but finally she came to the booth 
where we were sitting by ourselves and said, "I believe I'll just 
join you, if you don't mind." 

She sat down before I could say anything and she took up quite a lot 
of space doing it, too. 

Then one of the strangest things I have ever seen happened.  Her face,
which I thought was a little scary - she had a very big nose and 
this huge neck - softened and gentled as she looked at my brother.  
And then she began to sing.  Out of her strange body came one of the 
loveliest sounds I've ever heard.  She put her arm around my brother 
and pulled him close to her.  And softly, very softly, she sang as 
though singing just for us, "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the 
little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head." 

He looked up at her.  I think he was startled at first to hear his 
favorite carol sung to him by a strange woman in a snowbound bus stop.
But soon the sadness left his face.  Soon he put his hand in hers.  
And then they sang together, louder now, "The stars in the bright sky 
looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay."  

After that a young man unpacked his guitar and the bus driver pulled 
out a harmonica, and before long, everyone was singing just about 
every Christmas carol you ever heard in your life.  We sang and drank 
hot cocoa with marshmallows and ate cupcakes until people finally 
settled down for the evening, huddled in the booths, sitting on the 
floor, leaning against each other for comfort and support.  And so we 
spent Christmas Eve. 

The roads were cleared by eleven the next morning and we said good-
bye to everyone on the bus.  Our parents had called the restaurant 
and were on their way to pick us up.  The last person we saw was Mrs. 
Mills.  She hugged us and I thanked her.  Then she bent over and 
kissed us both on the forehead.  "I'll never forget you two boys.  
You were my Christmas present.  That's the way I'll always think of 
you."  Then she got on the bus and I never saw her again. 

Later that night, when we were all comfortable and warm before the 
fire at Aunt Alice's, I asked my dad what the strange woman could 
have meant.  I'd told him the whole story, of course, except for the 
part about getting mad at my brother for crying so much. 

He said, "That's the thing about a true gift.  You can only give it.  
You never know how much it means to another person." 

"But what was our gift, dad?  We didn't give her a present or 
anything." 

"I don't have any way of knowing that.  It might have been your cute 
faces.  It might have been that you liked her, or weren't afraid of 
her because of the way she looked.  Or it might have been that you 
sang along with her in a strange place she never planned to be in.  
Just be grateful that you had something to give that woman, something 
she treasured and would remember.  Make that a part of who you are 
and that will be your gift to me." 

And then Aunt Alice went to the piano and we, all of us, began our 
annual caroling, the singing of songs together that I liked better 
than almost anything in the world.  But what I was thinking about 
most that evening was Mrs. Margaret Mills and what a wonderful voice 
she had.  And as I thought about her, I missed her.  Truly missed her.
And I hoped that wherever she was, she was singing for someone who 
liked her as much as I did. 

<おじさんの一言>
クリスマスを祝うため小さい兄弟二人がバスでおじさんの家に向かう途中、大
雪に遭いバスは立ち往生。ついにガソリンスタンドの小さなレストランでクリ
スマスイブを、たまたま同じバスに乗り合わせた知らない人たちと過ごすこと
になる。弟が悲しくて泣き出すと、年配の女性が近づいてきて、弟のために弟
の大好きなキャロルを歌ってくれる。そして弟の悲しみもやわらぎ、気がつく
と女性と一緒に楽しく歌っていた。他の人たちもギターやハーモニカを出して
それに加わり、ココアやカップケーキを食べながら一つになってクリスマスキ
ャロルを歌いイブを過ごした。

翌朝天気は回復し、親が迎えに来てくれる兄弟を残して、他の人たちは次々に
バスに乗り込んでいく。別れを惜しんでいると、あの年配の女性ミルズさんが、
「あなたがた兄弟のことは決して忘れないわ。あなたがたは私にとってとても
すてきなクリスマスプレゼントよ」と言ってバスに乗り込んでいった。

その夜家族でクリスマスを祝いながら、ミルズさんのことばの意味を父親にた
ずねてみると、父親は、
「本当のプレゼントというのはそういうものなんだ。その人にとってどれだけ
の意味を持つものかは、当人でないとわからないものだよ」
と言う。
「でも、プレゼントなんてしなかったよ」
「プレゼントというのは物とはかぎらないんだよ。彼女にとってのプレゼント
は、おまえたちのかわいい笑顔だったかもしれないし、おまえたちがなついて
くれたということかもしれない。彼女の容姿をこわがらなかったということか
もしれないし、思いもよらないところで一緒に歌を歌ってくれたということか
もしれないよ。彼女自身が大事に思っていつまでも忘れないものを彼女にプレ
ゼントすることができたということをただ素直に喜んで、そしてそういう部分
を自分の一面として大事にしてほしいんだ。するとそれがお父さんにとっても
おまえたちからもらうとてもすばらしいプレゼントになるんだよ」
その後家族とクリスマスをお祝いしていても、彼女のことは心から離れること
はなかった。

おじさんは思う。プレゼントとは、形ではなく、それに込められた気持ちなん
だ。この物質社会にあって、普段私たちはそのことを忘れがちである。心のこ
もったプレゼントをしたいものだ。

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