This is a Time for All Ages story I wrote for this coming Sunday’s Chalica Eve service.
There once was a chipmunk named Chesna. She lived above the ceiling in the roof of a Unitarian Universalist church. Chesna was very quiet and no one in the congregation knew about her. Sometimes, the minister thought he heard tiny footsteps. And after a potluck dinner, someone might notice that a cookie or two went missing.
But most of the time, Chesna stayed out of sight in the rafters where no one could find her. The church was a great home for Chesna during most of the week. Other than a few church staff, and people who came to some evening meetings, Chesna had the building all to herself.
She had the church all to herself except, that is, on Sundays. Sunday was the most dangerous day because all the people came for services. And though Chesna worried that the people may see her, or that she might scare the children, she still loved Sundays.
Chesna loved Sundays, because she loved worship services. She loved the singing and the sermons, she loved listening to musicians and readers. And she especially loved the Time for All Ages for the children. When the adults sang the children out, Chesna skittered along the roof beams to listen to their lessons. Chesna learned all about the seven principles, about the lives of famous Unitarian Universalists, and how to be kind and sure of herself.
Now, on the first Sunday of every month, this church held an additional worship service in the evening. Chesna loved these Sunday night services most of all. In the evening, the songs sounded even more lovely and the prayers seemed even more important. The Sunday night services were definitely Chesna’s favorite.
One year, right after Thanksgiving, the weather grew terribly cold. The temperature dropped so low that Chesna snuck into the church closet and took some of the small candles. She scattered them around her in the ceiling so she could stay warm if the cold grew too great.
On the first Sunday of that December, Chesna sat waiting for the evening service. It was snowing outside and ice was forming on the tree branches. The people entered and sat in the sanctuary and the service began.
Suddenly, in the middle of the worship, the lights went out! Ice had formed on the power lines outside until they grew so heavy that they snapped and fell. The sanctuary was now plunged in darkness. The younger children started to grow scared and the adults tried to calm them.
All of a sudden, right in front of the pulpit, there stood Chesna holding a stack of candles. She trembled because she was carrying as much as she could. Even more, though, she was scared that people might chase her out of the building and into the snow storm.
Everyone immediately hushed to silence. Then, a small child stepped forward, took one of Chesna’s candles and lit it with the chalice light. Another child stepped forward, and then another until seven children had lit the seven candles Chesna had carried from the rafters. Now there was plenty of light in the sanctuary and the worship continued.
The people were so grateful to Chesna that they built a little home for her right next to the pulpit. During that whole week, people came in with food for Chesna and material for bedding. And each night, they lit a candle so that Chesna could stay warm.
From that year on, the church celebrated the first week of December as Chalica. People lit a candle on each of the seven nights, one for each of our seven principles. And, Chesna the Chalica Chipmunk lived there in the church and was part of every worship service for many years.