This is adapted from a post I originally published on December 24, 2014. I still mean every word.
In the song, “Turn, Turn, Turn“, made famous by the Byrds, though adapted from Ecclesiastes 3:1 by George Aber and Pete Seeger, we learn this: “To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” So it is, then, that now, today — even for me — there is a purpose for setting aside dark cynicism and petty sarcasm in deference to the sincerity and reverence due the season.
It’s Christmas Eve. No other evening of the year is so full of wonder, of promise, of peace, hope, and humanity. If you don’t know it, you can hear it. If you can’t hear it, you can feel it. If you can’t feel it — and presuming your lack of feeling isn’t attributable to matters of religious affiliation or lack thereof — I hope this post helps.
Atone = At One
As a recovering Catholic, troubled by the rote proscriptions and prescriptions of the faith, I’m compelled to find the relevance of the historical figure of Jesus; of his significance, even as a non-deified being; as an exemplar, rather than a judge. What’s his instructive import as a mortal? Why has he attracted followers the world over for more than 2,000 years?
The simple answer is that, as a human being, Jesus suggests by his own example the extent to which we’re capable of self-sacrifice. Will we be called to lay down our lives for others? Likely not. Would we be capable of doing so? Aye, there’s the rub — and, perhaps, the reason this time of year is called the Season of Giving.
Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu — we all know right from wrong. And regardless of our skin color, we’re innately capable of giving of ourselves, of recognizing our shared humanity, and of celebrating the irrefutable kinship of species.
“May That Be Truly Said of Us”*
If you’re not sure of that, get this film, on DVD, on YouTube, or streaming. Watch it as many times as it takes. If you cry during Marley’s visit to Scrooge, you’ll be fine. If not, don’t give up. But if you’re not crying at Scrooge’s visit to the graveyard with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, hit Replay and start to worry. If that performance doesn’t reach you, you’re going to require more work.
Whatever you do, please read the speech below from Dickens’ original text, delivered to Scrooge by his nephew on Christmas Eve. It’ll remind you of your own heart and its proper place. It’ll remind you of the price of hubris and the importance of humility. It’ll remind you why Christmas Eve is so full of wonder, of promise, of peace, hope, and humanity.
Most important, it’ll remind you of your own blessings, regardless of whether you acknowledge them, let alone be grateful:
I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, “God bless it!”
I sincerely wish you the blessings of the Season, by whatever means you find to be at one with them.