In September 1995 Caryl and Charlie Harvey answered an early morning knock upon their front door. Two policemen stood there grimly, passing on the terrible news that their 20 year old son Chad had been found murdered.
Grief stricken they went through the motions of the funeral and life. But as Christmas approached Caryl found herself giving vent to her disappointment and anger with God. He had failed her. Why hadn’t he protected her son as she had so often prayed?
In desperation she prayed, “God, if you care about me, I need a miracle. Otherwise, I think I’ll probably die.” She waited, and that Christmas her miracle came.
One night the doorbell rang. When Caryl’s 13 year old daughter answered it she found a gift but no giver, nor any mark identifying the giver. The gift was a treebranch with apples planted in it and a blue plastic nightingale perched on top. Attached was a piece of paper which read:
“On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree.
We couldn’t find a partridge,
And our pear tree died,
So you have to settle for a
Bluebird in an apple tree.”
Also attached was a bible verse describing the birth of John the Baptist.
The next evening there was another ring of the doorbell and another gift. Though Sarah, Cheryl’s daughter, raced to the door, she wasn’t fast enough to discover who the mystery giver was. This time there was a box containing “turtle” brand lollies and two Dove brand chocolate bars. The note read
“On the second day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
and included a bible verse about the angel Gabriel appearing to the virgin Mary.
And on it went for the next ten days. The third day were three cornish hens (the French hens had lost their passport the note said); the fourth day there was a cassette tap with songs which had the word “bird” in the title, and a calling card – “four calling birds”; on the fifth day five golden rings were freshly cooked doughnuts; on the sixth day six geese-a-laying were pastel chalk eggs; on the seventh day, seven swans swam across the top of a blue-frosted cake; on the eighth day eight maids-a-milking was a cow candle; on the ninth day nine ladies dancing were 18 gingerbread people decorated as dancers (the Equal Opportunity Employment Act wouldn’t allow them to send just nine ladies); on the tenth day there were ten wooden leaping puppets; on the eleventh day a James Galway tape did for eleven pipers piping; on the twelfth day of Christmas there were twelve drums made out of iced biscuits. And each day there was a Scripture verse preparing them for the approaching holiday.
Caryl found that this was her miracle. For the first time since Chad’s death she had begun looking forward to the next day, wanting to know what would come next. Thinking of that time she says “My miracle. When I couldn’t talk to God, when I didn’t even want to talk to him, he sent my miracle through someone else. God used earthly hands to send it to me, but his fingerprints were all over it.”
Caryl’s experience reminds us that when people are wounded our action can be a miracle to them, helping them find healing and recovery. Indeed, often like Caryl, they are unable to seek God out, but we can become a vehicle of God’s grace to them
Source: based on Caryl’s story as self reported in Christianity Today Magazine, November/December 2001, Vol. 39, No. 6.