the magic of hope

I looked sick. I knew I looked sick. All that was missing was a hospital gown and a nurse pushing in medication through an IV. I stuck out, but I held my back straight and kept my head up. I was shopping with my mom at a mall in the city. We were calling it a day when she needed to pop into one more store. I parked my chair near the entrance of the busy food court in a vain attempt to blend in with the crowd.

A tall blonde man approached me. I couldn’t imagine for what. He might have been in his late twenties or early thirties. He was what I would call put together, someone that looked after himself. He was good looking. The tall blonde man stopped at the arm of my chair. He said, “I just wanted to tell you that you’re beautiful.” He said it without pity. He held it out to me, like a promise.

He turned and left. I might have said thank you, but I can’t be sure that I did.

His words were an unexpected balm, reaching out and cradling my face. An answer to a prayer I hadn’t thought to utter. I treasured those moments of grace that found their way to me at odd times. When I wasn’t looking, catching me off guard, and piercing a gnawing emptiness that sat in the middle of me. By sneak attack was the best way to get to me.

I didn’t tell my mom when she returned. I kept it to myself like a child hoarding secrets, afraid the spell would be ruined with one touch, one word and it would all disappear in a puff of smoke.

It came to me later in the days and months to follow that every person needs to feel beautiful, especially when we are at our worst, our ugliest. To have someone reach beneath the surface, past the scars and see you. To recognize you are a marvel, you are something to behold. To honor your strengths before your weaknesses. To acknowledge how hard you try. I thought about kind words and actions stirring life in parched and forgotten places, how I was starving and a stranger stopped to feed me. For a few seconds my life felt magical, God’s intervention, at a time where there was little to believe in. I’ve never forgotten it; a kindness that still casts hope in my life.


I’m struggling with this season this year. There is little enthusiasm, little merriment for what’s coming. I normally love this time of year. The cozy get-togethers, dedicated shopping, and the red cups from Starbucks are a delight. This month has become a long list of things to do. And I know I’m missing the point. I’ve lost Christmas’s charm, its magic. Because this time of year is a time for magic. I see it in my kids’ eyes when we visited Santa on the weekend. I saw it last Christmas when a stranger handed me a twenty dollar bill at a toy store and said, “Merry Christmas”. I saw it another Christmas when money was scarce and friends stashed beautifully wrapped presents in our car without us knowing. I see it in strings of light wrapped around houses and candlelight on Christmas Eve. I wrote the story above to remind myself of the power of belief, grace, and kindness…that this is where the magic lies.

This will be my last post for December. I’ll return in the New Year. I wish you and yours Happy Holidays!!

15 thoughts on “the magic of hope

  1. christy

    Oh it was so beautiful to read it brought tears to my eyes! I hope you are able to find some joy in the holidays this year after all Heidi. Reading your blog is a joy to me, and I’m so grateful for the friendship we’ve formed! I hope your family has a wonderful holiday and I look forward to reading more of your story next year! Merry Christmas, my friend! xo

  2. Toriz

    That was a wonderful thing to read about. Thank you for sharing such a special thing with us. 🙂

    I hope you manage to recapture the magic of Christmas, and that you and your family have a wonderful time celebrating the holidays.

  3. linda sue

    Heidi! If you come south email me and we can get a cup of tea at abbey, in Fairhaven, if you like… We can be silly and make fun of this season of crazed shoppers- we can throw things at them-like glances! Or we could go around and tell people that they are beautiful ( not my style, really but a great excercise in being a decent human!) You are beautiful- always have been always will be- you can not escape it…Even if you wore a bear suit you would shine through- that’s just who you are this time around, I guess.
    LOVE xxxxoooo

  4. Peter

    Heidi, your posts are amazing. Thank you.

    This post spoke so much to me about the character of God and how I believe he must see all of us and want to encounter us all the time.

    1. heidi

      Thank you, Peter! It’s good to see you here. Remember the days of pancake breakfasts waaaay back when?! Thinking about that now makes me feel old!
      Hope all is well with you.

  5. Fran

    This year has been a tremendous period of trial and growth for me. I can’t compare my world to yours, but I can tell you that this Christmas season seems to be happening without me. We have not put out a single decoration. Nothing.

    I’m glad I took the time to come visit you today. You remind me of the beauty that is in the world. You, my dear, are beautiful. I do trust that God is at work and he has a purpose for us. For you, for me, for Peter, for Linda Sue, for Toriz, Christy… He brought His son into the world as the greatest gift of all time. Merry Christmas!

  6. IntenseGuy

    That blonde young man was right. 🙂

    This .. this entry… is what the season is all about. To somehow, through grace, random kindness or just plain human kindness… let the light in… and push away the dreary aches, the darkness, and loss of innocence… and let the heart shine.

    May many smiles, twinkles in the eyes around you… the sound of laughter… surround you this season… Merry Christmas Heidi.

  7. Kate Coveny Hood

    Merry Christmas Heidi! I’m so glad that I found you. You inspire me to be more courageous in life. To take more chances and to believe in myself. I’m a better person for knowing you. See you in 2011!

  8. kendalee

    Heidi, as always, such a beautiful, heart-wrenching but ultimately life-affirming post. Moments like those are gifts and I’m glad he took the time and turned that day around for you.

    I hope that you have found, and managed to hold on to, some of the magic and I am wishing you a lovely, peaceful and relaxing Christmas time – full of all the things that warm your heart most and make you smile, inside and out! With love and thanks for your kindness to me over the past year – like that guy’s words to you, yours to me have made all the difference. xox

  9. Dawn Hanna

    i love coming here and reading your words and thoughts. just as the tall blond man’s words were a balm to you, your words are a balm to me. i wish you every happiness and joy…always. xoxox

  10. anna see

    I love the pictures you paint with your words, Heidi. And I’m so glad that man did not hold back, out of fear of awkwardness, but gave you that gift that day. Much love to YOU this Christmas. xo

  11. Jessica

    When I read things like this is when I really have to believe there is a power out there greater than ourselves.

    You are so right when you say we all need to feel beautiful especially when we feel the worst about ourselves. You are a beautiful woman, an amazing writer and an incredible inspiration to all of those who have the privilege of reading your work.

    Happy New Year to you.

Comments are closed.