Kathy Chaffin's Spiritually Speaking: A glimmer of hope in any storm

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 23, 2006

In 1984, the Post chartered a private plane for then-photographer James Barringer and me to fly to the Myrtle Beach area to cover the damage from Hurricane Diana.

As hurricanes go, Diana was kind. She spared far more than she took.

It was an exciting assignment, and my only one in a chartered plane.

Though I’d never gotten motion sickness from flying, I took some Dramamine just in case the ride got a little rough.

We left as soon as it was safe, and the eye of the hurricane was still visible in the sky. Seeing it up close like that is something I will never forget.

It was a smooth flight. Everything was going along fine until the pilot decided to do some acrobatic flying so James could photograph the damage along the South Carolina shoreline. We flew up and down and around and around, over and over again.

James got some great shots, and I got sick — really, really sick. By the time we landed and were standing on the ground, my head was spinning and I was so dizzy I had to hold onto James’ arm for support.

With his help, I managed to interview a few people, but I was too weak to write down many quotes. I made mental notes of the damage, stopping to pick up a displaced Christmas ornament in the debris.

It was a simple golden ball.

The article I wrote the next morning may have been the shortest hurricane story in the history of the world. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but I remember mentioning the Christmas ornament at the end.

It was a glimmer of hope amid the devastation.

I took the ornament home and put it on my Christmas tree that year, then packed it away until the next holiday season. Every year, I’d unpack it, put it on my tree and reflect back upon Hurricane Diana and that memorable flight.

As I began to go through my own storms in life — my mother’s untimely death, my battle with cancer, etc. — I began to appreciate the Christmas ornament even more. I named it Glimmer and placed it in a nest I had found in the corner of a windowsill and left it out year-round.

When life got hard, and it often did, I would look at Glimmer to remind me that no matter what happens, there is always hope.

I was looking at Glimmer the other night, still in its nest, when I thought about the times in my life when I have felt beaten down by storms.

It was hope that got me through them and with time, maturity and faith, that glimmer of hope began to shine so brightly that it blossomed into joy.

I believe with all my heart that God meant for us to experience great joy in this life.

Jesus, the true “reason for the season,” said, “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10, KJV).”

My wish for you, dear readers, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, is a joyful heart and playful spirit.

Read the Christmas story from the Bible. Thank God for sending his Son to bring hope to the world. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you.

Spend less time looking for the perfect gifts and planning the perfect meals and more time making memories with your family and friends.

Let that child inside of you come out and play. Wear elf hats and reindeer antlers. Dress up like Santa and drive around and wave at kids — I did that one year.

Laugh, often and loudly. Giggle even. Tell funny stories and sing silly songs.

Just be yourself, love who you are and have fun.

Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@salisburypost.com.