She slipped into the very back pew,

As Christmas Day was dawning.

The warmth drew her in from the chill dark streets

As church bells touched the morning.

Her trembling hands sought the back of the bench

To steady her sparse frame.

She looked at the gloves barely covering the bones,

And felt a slight sense of shame.

Her sleep-deprived eyes took in the sight

Of candles brightly burning,

And a few rows down, a dozen bowed heads,

Kept up a steady murmuring.

"Jesus," she heard, and yet "Jesus!" again,

As though His presence imploring.

Fat chance, she thought, for she believed in nought

But her own craftiness to save her.

'Twas only the warmth that had drawn her in,

She cared nothing for churches or Saviours.

Those fools in the front are just wasting their breath

Praying, as they are, for His favors.

She'd learned in this life there is nothing but strife,

That the world was a harsh place of sorrow.

She'd had nothing to eat now for days on end

With no hope for a better tomorrow.

I'll just settle me down and see how it goes.

And she crawled out of sight 'neath the seat.

Her eyes closed in sleep but a tryst she would keep

And she fancied He told her He loved her!

At midnight they found her, a robe wrapped around her,

'Though none could say from whence it came.

The smile on her face told of measureless grace

For she'd died in the arms of her Saviour.

H. S. Whipkey, Glenville, West Virginia...Nov. 5, 2004