“Yes, ma’am. I can’t thank you and your husband enough for all you’ve done.”
“You’re quite welcome. I’m just thankful Richard saw your boat when it capsized.”
“I imagine living out here at the lighthouse, you’ve seen many shipwrecks.”
“Not that many, but enough to know the dangers out there. That’s why my husband’s job as lightkeeper is so important.”
The man nodded, then closed his eyes.
“You need to rest, so I’ll leave you alone. Perhaps in a few days, you’ll be well enough to leave.”
Lydia turned to get something from the dresser but was distracted by the carved wooden box sitting on top. She lifted the lid as she had many times before and gazed at the contents. Reaching in, she picked up the gold pocket watch, its chain dangling. Her father’s watch. She could just see him take it out of his vest and open it to check the time. Inside the lid, she saw the picture of her mother, so young and happy. Lydia put down the watch and stroked the handle of her mother’s silver hairbrush, remembering how she would let her long hair down each night and brush it a hundred times before she went to bed. Next to the brush was her grandmother’s jeweled brooch which she gave to Lydia on her wedding day. Tears filled Lydia’s eyes as she closed the lid and returned the box to its place. These and her memories were all she had of her family, her past.
A few days later, the young fisherman strode into the kitchen.
“Well, don’t you look fit and healthy!” Lydia wiped her flour-covered hands on her apron. “Can I get you some coffee?”
“Yes, thank you.” He took the cup from her and sipped. “I believe I’m ready to go back home, but I’m afraid my boat isn’t.”
“Unfortunately, it was too damaged on the rocks and sank before Richard could retrieve it. But he can use our boat and row you back to the mainland.”
After breakfast, the lightkeeper left with the man, leaving Lydia alone with her chores. She went into the room where he had stayed to strip the bed. As she was leaving with a pile of laundry in her arms, she scanned the room to see what else she should wash. Her eyes stopped at the dresser, alarm racing through her body. She dropped the laundry and ran to the place where the box had been. Oh no! Frantically, she searched the drawers, hoping somehow she had moved it and forgotten. But she knew deep within her heart that it was gone, that the young man they had rescued had taken it.
Her tears flowed the rest of the day as she mourned the loss of her treasures and battled the sting of betrayal. When Richard heard what had happened, he held her close. “I’m so sorry, darling. I doubt we’ll ever see him again.”
It was approaching Christmas when a boat landed on the beach below the lighthouse. Lydia recognized the young man at her door.
He reached into his pocket, pulled out some money and handed it to her. “I guess you know I took your things. I’m truly sorry. I was desperate. I had no money and no boat to make more by fishing. I hope this will pay for what I stole. Will you please forgive me?”
She stared at the money, then looked up at the man’s face, tears now trickling down his cheeks.
“Thank you for coming back. Those things meant a lot to me, and they cannot be replaced, but I forgive you. Tell me, though, what made you come back? We didn’t think we’d ever see you again.”
“I didn’t intend to come back either. But every time I was out fishing, I could see the lighthouse, and it reminded me of what I’d done. It was as if the light was shining right inside me and showing me how wrong I’d been. I couldn’t take it anymore and knew I had to come back and confess my guilt to you. I hoped and prayed you’d forgive me.”
Lydia smiled. Her treasures were gone, but her memories would stay. And the peace in her heart restored her.
“Can I get you a cup of coffee?” she asked.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Cor. 4:6
At this time of year when we look forward to the birth of Christ, the light of the world, is there someone to whom you can give the gift of forgiveness?