'The Spirit stood beside sick beds, and they were cheerful; on foreign lands, and they were close at home; by struggling men, and they were patient in their greater hope; by poverty, and it was rich. In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery’s every refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge his precepts.
It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of it, until they left a children’s Twelfth Night party, when, looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he noticed that its hair was grey.
“Are spirits’ lives so short?” asked Scrooge. “My life upon this globe, is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends to-night.”
“To-night!” cried Scrooge.
“To-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing near.”
In his timeless story, 'A Christmas Carol', Charles Dickens described the spirit that in his day roamed the world, or at least the Christian world, for those dozen of days. He sets off, with Scrooge in tow, full of fun, charity and good will. At the touch of his torch people are kinder, more forgiving, more generous, more humane. But it dies, on the twelfth night or perhaps much sooner. I believe the spirit of Christmas is still alive in our day, but I wonder how long he lives? Is it for twelve days or maybe less. Does it have to die at all?
I do not believe that is so and I believe it can live in anyone who is open to it, no matter what their race or creed. To keep that spirit alive all we have to do is live by two simple principles. These were expressed by an ancient priest long ago, his name was Thomas Kempis. In the book attributed to him, The Imitation of Christ he says this:
'A man is raised up from the Earth by two wings, simplicity and purity. There must be simplicity in his intention and purity in his desires. Simplicity leads to God, purity embraces and enjoys Him. If your heart be free from from ill-ordered affection, no good deed will be difficult for you. If you aim at and seek after nothing but the pleasure of God and the welfare of your neighbour, you will enjoy freedom within.'
So whatever your allegiances are, keep your intentions and desires simple and pure. We are all spirits, let us be spirits with a torch that turns frowns into smiles, that casts fears away, that brings hope where there is doubt and despair. Let us be patient and forgive quickly, respect a person agency and not judge a man entirely by his worse behaviour. There is good in everyone, let us have the coursge to believe it.
27 December 2015
How long can the Spirit of Christmas stay alive?