I recently watched the classic Dickens Christmas Carol, the one with George C. Scott. I feel moved every time I watch it-- it touches on something that is a deep part of our human story. The various characters speak to the hopes and struggles of our lives-- the desire for closeness, challenges with money, health issues and interactions with powerful people. A rich contrast plays out between someone who has everything but is miserable, and those who have little but who are generous and joyful. The core message of this story is timeless. It asks, can people change? Can they awaken from lives of cruelty and selfishness to care deeply about the welfare of others? Unlike Scrooge, I am afraid that we may not get the benefit of a visitation by ghosts, offering a more eternal perspective that allows us to see the world in a new light.
Here is the question that the story prompts me to ask myself, "is there any part of my life in which I need to wake up, realizing like Scrooge that I want to live differently?"
If we join the story ourselves, we could be prompted to ask some other important questions. Are there people that we are going to wish we had treated with more kindness, grace that we wish we had extended to others? Are there words that we have uttered that may be echo'd back to us bringing regret? Are we going to look back on our lives and wish we had spent them differently- placing value on relationships or lending dignity to those who needed it?
One of the interesting things about this story is that it presents a universe in which people get assistance coming to important realizations about their lives. What's more, people who have been stuck with a set of values centered only on themselves, can change, finding a new life full of joy and closeness with others.
Perhaps this Christmas season we could benefit from a visitation of our own.