In all my years of watching over the lives of humans, documenting their deeds and observing their natures, I don’t know that I have ever seen a simple love so satisfying as that Frederick and Hope shared in the years after their wedding. Several years after their marriage, Frederick was offered a professorship in a highly praised university in Boston, and the two of them fell in love with the city. During their time there they raised several children, and each eventually left home with the fantastical stories of their parent’s old silver candlesticks engraved on their hearts. It was because of this that one day, in September 2001, a young man who had spoken to their oldest son came to them with a very unusual offer.
“You want to take the candlesticks?” asked Hope in surprise, staring at him from across the coffee table in their small living room.
“It wouldn’t be permanently,” explained the young man, looking from her to Frederick. “I represent a small children’s museum in Los Angeles that is just starting up. When your son told me your family’s story, as well as the story of those candlesticks, I just had to come and speak with you! I think it would be a wonderful exhibit for the grand opening.”
“But to take them all the way to Los Angeles,” put in Hope, shaking her head. “What if they were to get lost… or damaged somehow?”
“I know it’s asking a lot of you,” agreed the man, sighing. “But think of how many this story could inspire. And I promise I will take the utmost care of them.”
Hope sighed and leaned back in her chair, looking over at Frederick for guidance. The German man had been sitting silently for nearly the whole conversation, his fingers stroking his chin thoughtfully. At last, he nodded slowly. “My whole life I looked up to my mother for what she did. She always strived to spread a little light to the people around her, and if by sending her candlesticks with you we can spread the light a little further, I know it would be what she wanted.”
The young man left to go back to Los Angeles the next day with the candlesticks tucked safely away in his luggage. As he sat down in his seat, flipping through one of the magazines in the seat pocket in front of him, he didn’t notice the stern Middle Eastern gentleman sit down across from him. He didn’t even notice, after they had taken off, as the man stood and made his way to the front of the plane. The whole world, however, soon would.
That day in September would be remembered as one of the worst tragedies in the history of the nation. The entirety of America watched in horror as the Boeing 767 crashed into one of the Twin Towers in a burst of flames, destroying with it hundreds of innocent lives. The world looked on as, slowly, the extent of the tragedy was realized, but one thing they were destined to never see.
Please, for a moment, join me in this scene of destruction. Fires are still burning in the rubble, and all around us people run for help. Most are crying. Police sirens mingle with screams of terror and pain on the otherwise peaceful September day. Lying silently at our feet, lost and forgotten in the rubble, are two melted lumps of silver, gleaming in the gloom. Do you recognize this scene? We are back where we began.
All stories have an end, but they do not always end where we might have expected. Think back through the decades to a small silver shop, and a young man named Samuel who trudged through the snow on Christmas Eve to bring some light to a stranger in the night; a century of hope sparked by a single act of kindness. I have seen many such actions over the course of human history, most of which I am the only one to ever see, and if there is one thing I’ve learned from them, it is that there is an odd quirk to kind actions. They never really die away…
Rodger Danforth, one of the fire chiefs on the scene, set his jaw as he made his way through the rubble, his eyes searching for some stir in the chaos. His mind and heart numbed to the misery around him, he kept his thoughts on the moment. Just keep looking, that’s all there was now. Suddenly, the sound of the sirens seemed to lessen as something in the wreckage caught his eye. He bent down slowly and pulled the odd, twisted object out from where it lay covered in soot. It was lumped together in the middle, no doubt melted down in the fire, and lay heavy in his hands. Not sure what compelled him to do so, he slipped it slowly into the inside of his uniform before moving on, hurrying to help as a young woman was dug out from underneath the rubble.
Nearly two months later, as the world slowly started to get back to normal, he hesitantly made his way into the small silver shop of one of his old friends, Larry Pine. “This is it?” asked Larry in awe, looking over the wreck with an appraising eye. Rodger nodded slightly, working his jaw as he did. Larry paused and glanced up at him. “When you told me about finding it I didn’t expect it to be in such bad shape. What do you want me to do with it?”
Rodger sighed, and rubbed his temples, his face grave. “We can’t leave it like this, Larry,” he said at last, shaking his head. “After all it’s been through, after everything we all have, we’ve got to try and fix at least one thing from that inferno.”
Larry smiled slightly as he turned it over again in his hands, his fingers itching to get to work. “I was hoping you would say that.”
A little over a month later, on Christmas Eve, Rodger made his way quietly through his house, the small lights from the Christmas tree guiding his way. At the end of the hall he pushed open his daughter’s bedroom door softly and peeked inside. She was still up reading under the covers, her gaze lifting to meet him as he stepped in. The package he handed her was small compared with some under the tree, wrapped in simple brown paper. She undid the ribbon quickly, careful not to tear the paper as she pulled it aside. As she opened the box, her breath caught in her throat. She looked up at her father with wide eyes. “Is this… what I think it is?”
He nodded, putting his arm gently around her. “Yes, it is.”
That night, as she fell asleep, a single silver candlestick sat in her bedroom window, framed by the falling snow outside. In it, a candle glowed in the dark, shining a light of hope to the world outside that might just last… for another hundred years.
Main photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/fireman-firefighter-rubble-9-11-100722/
Ending photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/candle-light-church-darkness-dark-2062861/