“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
“They are Man’s and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance and this girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be eased.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” ~ Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
“Jesus did not spend a great deal of time discoursing about the trinity or original sin or the incarnation, which have preoccupied later Christians. He went around doing good and being compassionate.” ~ Karen Armstrong
The other day I was visited by a couple of lovely ladies who are Jehovah’s Witness. These people come around most often at Christmas and Easter. There were actually two visits. The first time they came I said something about leaving the church I had grown up in. That, of course, was the foot in the door for them to come back. Whenever I say I’m finished with organized religion, people think I’ve lost faith in God. That’s not the case at all. God and I’ve been communicating with each other since I was eight years old and we’re doing just fine.
During the second visit they showed me a video about a man who had given up on organized religion and felt abandoned by God, but then he came into contact with the Jehovah’s Witness and his life was turned around. I was happy for him, but I didn’t leave my church because I lost faith in God. I left because I wanted a bigger spiritual life than the one mapped out for me within that church. I got a great start in my spiritual life from them, I just needed more space to expand my understanding of God.
Because God and I have been having this running conversation for most of my life, I’m always thinking and asking questions about the light and darkness within us and what purpose they serve. Christmas time seems like a prime time for those kinds of reflections. And the visit by the Jehovah’s Witness got me thinking about Jesus and what he would think about how people put him on a distant pedestal.
One of the most meaningful scriptures to me is the one where Jesus says that we can do even greater things than he has done. I always took that to mean that he thought of himself as the forerunner, an example. Worshipping him has always made me uncomfortable. It’s nearly impossible to relate to and learn from an icon.
Another thing that I have always loved about Jesus, is that he believed we can become better. He was drawn to people who were wounded in some way and needed a shift in perception. If they were open to it, he helped them get that. I think of Jesus as the light. And that brings me to Scrooge.
I’m rereading A Christmas Carol. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I read it for the first time last Christmas. At the beginning of the book, Scrooge is definitely a symbol for darkness. No one wants to be around him, even the men he does business with.
I’ve seen multiple movie versions of the story and what brings me back to watching them year after year is the promise that even the most hardened heart can be softened and changed. That’s what I’ve learned from Scrooge.
Today, as I write this, we just returned from seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Those movies are definitely about the battle between darkness and light. In the movie, Yoda says something to Luke that applies to how Scrooge transforms in A Christmas Carol. He says, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” And I have to say that I agree with him. My greatest lessons have come when I’ve utterly failed, or when my life has fallen apart. And Charles Dickens was a genius to put Scrooge into a position where he was forced to examine his life. He never would have done it on his own. It’s interesting that as he is forced to relive his tortured young years, he’s drawn to the people from his past who are full of light. It’s the same as he travels far and wide in the present. And more than that, his own dark and unloving words come back to haunt him.
I find Scrooge’s story extremely fascinating because at the beginning it seems that he likes the darkness that surrounds him and he’ll never give it up. Sometimes I feel the same way. I get caught up in downward spiral thinking and I kind of wallow there. Yet, it only takes a little nudging toward the light for Scrooge to able to see the pattern of his life; how he came to embrace darkness and get a chance to make a new choice.
These are just some things I’ve been rolling around in my head. I do it most often when things in my outer world appear to be so dark. Hope, light, love, compassion, listening, gratitude, generosity, those are the things that darkness cannot stand up to. This Christmas season it feels like I need to take stock and cultivate those qualities so that darkness can’t win.
I hope the light of loved ones surround you this holiday season.
Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.