Again the ghost sped on, above the black and heaving sea… on, on… until, being far away, as he told Scrooge, from any shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel, the lookout in the bow, the officers who had the watch; dark ghostly figures in their stations; but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his companions of some bygone Christmas day, with homeward hopes belonging to it. And every man on board, waking or sleeping, good or bad had had a kinder word for one another on that day than on any day in the year; and had remembered those he cared for at a distance and had known that they delighted to remember him. -Charles Dickens- ‘A Christmas Carol’
The above paragraph from Charles Dickens holiday classic A Christmas Carole in many ways sends me to that blissful state of Christmas I knew in my childhood. It became part of the ritual of the holidays to sit together and watch Scrooge and Tiny Tim and the forbidding three ghosts. Many of us have seen A Christmas Carol performed in countless TV movies and on stage, but I wonder how many have read the book. Take it from me, read the book and you’ll be enlightened by the author’s poetic language as exemplified in the above paragraph.
They say that Dickens invented the modern era of Christmas as we know it today with this story. I’m not sure if I would go that far, but his words did give us a certain presence that brings the holiday close to every heart no matter what your belief.
And the wonder inherent in these words is that they are void of any dogma or fundamentalism. They don’t preach or beg you to remember the reason for the season. However, they reach across religious and cultural lines. There is this understanding… a nod and wink to the fact that something special happened on this day and still does.
I witness this grace as the want of compassion flows freely through the air at this time of year and it’s answered ten-fold. Mindfulness living in these precious moments surrounds us as a genuine feeling of love for one another is present in the still point of our being.
These quiet observances wanting in each of us during the buzziness of the holiday season comes alive once the stillness of the day catches up to our hectic lives. So as every man on board “had a kinder word for one another”, let us each have a kinder word for others and for ourselves.
Merry Christmas, -JC