by Fr. Michael Prieur, associate priest of MH.
A man was driving along a highway. It was snowing very hard, and the wind was blowing very strong. He had only a small amount of gas in his tank, but he was hoping to refuel at a station close to home where the price was cheaper.
It grew darker and darker, and the snow was coming down heavier and heavier. It became harder and harder to see the road.
Suddenly, just before the next interchange on the highway, a police barrier stopped him. He paused. He remembered that he had just put on snow tires. He could get through! He skidded around the barrier and pressed on.
Ten minutes later, a big rut forced his car into a ditch. His snow tires were useless. He was stuck.
The wind was blowing harder than ever; he could not see the road at all. His gas gage read almost empty.
For several hours, he only ran his engine for ten minutes every hour, making sure his tail-pipe was clear of snow. Then, suddenly, his engine sputtered and stalled. He was out of gas.
He remembered that he had a small candle and some matches in his trunk. He forced open his door against the piled-up snow, scraped the snow off his trunk, opened it, and found the candle and matches.
With chilled hands, he lit the candle and put it where his coffee cup rested next to his seat. Ever so slowly, the gentle, flickering candle dispelled the freezing cold in the car.
He began to be afraid. He could see nothing outside in the blowing snow. How long could he survive?
A few hours later, he was startled by someone pounding on the car window. All he could see was a dark-skinned man of a race he didn’t like. He invited him into the car.
The two men told each other their stories as the candle flickered and kept them warm. His dislike for the man melted away in the dim light.
Many, many hours passed—in fact, a whole 24 hours.
Suddenly, they heard the sound of a helicopter. Then, very soon after that, a snowmobile roared up to the car, and a man in a big snowsuit banged on the window:
"Anybody in there?" he shouted.
Within minutes, the two of them were loaded onto snowmobiles and quickly driven to a nearby town.
Once there, they were immediately brought to a school gymnasium, bundled up in warm blankets, given bowls of hot soup, and invited to tell their stories. They used cell phones to call their families. Everyone was full of joy and gratitude that they were still alive.
Then they realized what had really happened. They had both ignored the barriers the police had set up to protect them from danger. They could have easily turned around and found shelter in the big city they had just passed.
Also, the one who had disliked the other because of the color of his skin had completely forgotten this as they stayed warm, huddled together, hoping to be found alive.
Then suddenly they both realized the most wonderful thing of all: a single, small candle with a flickering flame had saved their lives. One tiny candle!
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