by Bob Perks
"Who is responsible
for this?" the pastor asked. "I can't believe that no one has
taken care of it. I have been getting phone calls for two days. I
didn't know what to tell them."
For longer than anyone can remember the old Gospel Church atop the hill in Reddington Valley served as a beacon for those who were lost. Not just spiritually but even as a landmark for giving directions.
"Turn down Main Street and head toward the brightest star in the sky. You can't miss it," a traveller would hear.
You see, on top of the old church steeple was a big bright star. It was all one piece and lighted by a huge light bulb. They actually had placed it up there as part of a Christmas display and never took it down.
But two days ago the bulb burned out.
The entire town was lost without it. It seemed that the locals were all turned about at night. The confusion started when someone passing through happened to stop the mayor to ask for directions.
"I looked up and pointed to the star. It wasn't there. Thinking I was facing the wrong way, I turned around looking for it but couldn't find it," he said.
"I think that guy is still riding around town."
Soon the phone started ringing at the old Gospel Church.
People wanted to know what happened.
The problem was even the Pastor didn't know.
That star was just always there. He had no idea who kept it lit or where the light bulbs were. That is, until the phone rang late that afternoon.
"Pastor, I'm hoping you can help us," the man said. "This is Police Chief Robertson. We just got back from the Delaney house. We found old Jim Delaney dead. It seems he's been dead about two days."
"I'm sorry. I must tell you that I'm not familiar with the man," the
"No one seems to be," the Chief replied. "There are no known relatives or friends available."
"Well, if it's a burial service you are looking for, I'd be pleased to do it," said the Pastor.
"That would be great. But there is something else. I'd like for you to come by in about an hour if you can. The house is up the dirt road on Bishop's Hill across the valley from your church."
"I'll be there," he replied.
The Pastor arrived just as Chief Robertson pulled in. "What is it you wanted me to see, Chief?"
"Come inside. I think you'll need this stuff."
As they entered the home you could see stacks of unopened mail along with various books scattered about.
"Over here, Pastor. I believe this is for you."
There on the mantle of the fireplace was a box with a small white envelope attached. It said "From the star keeper to The Gospel Church".
The note inside it read:
To whom it may concern:
Back in 1950 my beautiful wife Mildred became ill. We could not afford to place her in a home so for her remaining months on this earth, I took care of her. Before her illness she attended your church every Sunday. It was so very frustrating for her not to be able to, once she got sick. But every Sunday I would position her on the front porch so that she could see the church across the valley.
It was that Christmas someone placed a star on the steeple. Every night Mildred would say her prayers while gazing out at that star. I had just pushed her chair over to the window that night. She was barely able to breathe. As I pulled the shade up I heard her quietly say, "The star. The star is gone." As I turned around she slumped over with one last sigh. The star indeed was not lit that night.
After her burial I approached the Pastor and made a deal with him. I agreed to keep the star lit for as long as I am alive as a memorial to my wife. So many people had loved that image during the holidays that he agreed to it.
I am near my journey's end. The church can sell my property and all I own in exchange for a favour. I have provided enough light bulbs in this box to keep the star lit a few more years. The key to the church door is inside this envelope. Please find someone who can take on the task of keeping the star lit after my death. I loved my wife so very much. I want that star to serve as an example of what love can be.
You can say you love someone, but it's not until you show it, that love is made visible.
"When did you say he died, Chief?"
"Two days ago according to the coroner."
"That's when the star burned out, Chief."
The pastor looked down for a moment, then looked back up.
"Consider it done, Mr. Delaney," said the Pastor.
"Consider it done!