A strong gust of wind startled Peter, causing him to stand still.
In the blink of an eye, the winds increased and whipped the falling snow into blizzard-like conditions, stinging his now teary eyes and blurring his vision. Peter had never before experienced a snowstorm like this, one that intensified so swiftly into a heart-pounding blizzard.
Peter barely made out the glow of lights from the Christmas stable on the commons. The stable would be a sanctuary and the closest place to weather the fierce storm. Upon reaching the stable, he slipped inside. Tired and dispirited, Peter sank onto a mat of straw at the foot of a shepherd statue holding a staff. He leaned his head against the shepherd’s staff, wiped away what remained of his cold tears and closed his eyes. After a few moments, he composed himself and looked around the softly lit stable scene.
Beautifully painted statues of Joseph and Mary stood beside an empty manger awaiting the birth of baby Jesus. The statues in the stable were life-like. Shepherds and three tall camels stood watch over donkeys, cows and sheep of various sizes.
Where are the Three Kings? Peter wondered. Every stable had the Three Kings in it.
Peter looked through the opening of the half door, at the front of the stable, towards the raging blizzard outside. Off in the distance, the blur of an approaching figure appeared. Someone else needs the safety of the stable.
The image of the figure grew larger as it got closer, but it never became distinct. The pounding blizzard made it impossible to see who was approaching. Unexpectedly, from out of the thick waterfall of snowflakes, the figure stuck its head inside the stable. Peter gasped in shock! It was not the head of a person... it was the head of a gigantic camel.
Peter’s jaw dropped in amazement as the half door opened. He wondered if he was hallucinating, as he awkwardly slid toward the back of the stable. Facing him was an enormous nine foot tall camel. The camel’s face was large with soft droopy blue eyes, a long nose, and a mouth full of prominent white teeth. The camel shook off the snow on its body, plopped down, grinned at Peter, and began to chew the straw.
Dumbfounded, Peter could not move. Am I dreaming? He bit his lower lip and rubbed his eyes. The camel was still there grinning and calmly munching straw. This is not a dream! The camel’s piercing blue eyes locked onto Peter’s.
The camel softly asked, “Peter, things are not going well for you, are they?”
Peter stuttered, “Who are you... and how could you possibly know how I feel?”
“My name is Ishcabibble (Ish-ca-bibble), but you can call me Izzy. I am here to be a friend.”
Great, Peter thought, not only am I losing my job, I’m losing my mind. A camel wants to be my new friend?
“Why are you feeling sorry for yourself? Why do you blame your editor for your troubles when you, and only you, have created your present situation. Your blame is misplaced! You must take responsibility for what you do... or fail to do.”
Peter reached out and touched the camel’s side. Though Izzy’s coat was wet from the snow, somehow it was comfortingly soft. Izzy did not move and now his smile widened.
Peter removed his hand and shouted, to no one in particular, “My editor no longer believes I can write and you know what? I think he’s right. I’m probably going to lose my job. And now, a camel is talking to me!”
Peter raised his right arm and pointed to the heavens, “Please God, with all my problems, tell me why you are trying to drive me crazy too?”
“Peter, you need to believe,” the camel said.
“Believe in what?”
“First, Peter, I am not an illusion. I am here with you, in this stable.”
Completely bewildered, Peter shook his head from side to side.
“Listen carefully, Peter. Your editor doesn’t like your Christmas story because it lacks the inspiration of your earlier writing. You must believe once more in the Christmas spirit... and in the love of the ‘God of All’. Until you believe, your attempts to write a Christmas story will be aimless and uninspired.
“Your greatest fear is that you will fail. And the more you fear, the greater its darkness will grow and consume you. Peter, reach into your heart. There you will find a candle burning bright. That candle light is your light. A light that can make the darkness of your fears disappear.
“Peter. Remember all your childhood joys of Christmas. Reawaken your Christmas spirit. A wondrous Christmas story lies within your heart waiting to be told... waiting to be written. Believe! Listen to your inner voice, which is your light and your spirit. And let that voice rekindle your faith and help you write a Christmas story.”
Izzy stood and approached Peter. He leaned over and used his big wet nose, to give Peter a gentle nudge on his forehead.
To Peter, the nudge felt like a hug. A hug he so desperately needed.
Izzy turned to leave, then stopped and looked back at Peter, “By the way, many people believe that the Three Kings did not visit the stable until long after that first Christmas Day. But, I know of a story where the Three Kings secretly visited the stable, in Bethlehem, on Christmas Eve night. Now that would make an amazing Christmas story, don’t you think?”
Before Peter could answer, Izzy walked out the front of the stable into the still raging blizzard. His feet left deep imprints in the snow as he slowly moved away. First Izzy, then eventually his footprints vanished in the white curtain of snowflakes.
Outside the stable it was still cold. But Peter quickly realized that as soon as Izzy disappeared, the blizzard-like conditions abated and the snow fell gently. Peter noticed three beautiful snowflakes had settled on his coat sleeve. Each was uniquely different and perfect in design. Peter knew that no two snowflakes were ever created the same. What a miracle of nature, he thought.
Little did Peter know that before the night was over, he would learn more about snowflakes than one could ever imagine!