|A Christmas Carol|
The first time I read Charles Dickens was several years ago when I read A Christmas Carol to my children. In my typical intimidation, I thought, "This is going to be so hard, not only to read, but to comprehend." It was a little difficult to read, but not to understand. I got it, and my kids got it. And they loved it, too.
Now I read it every Christmas to them, and each time I glean something new. But most of all, when we reach that final chapter, I get the same elated feeling in my heart when Ebenezer is revived with new life, realizing that his own life has been preserved and that he has been given a special gift. Then he takes that joy within himself and shares it with others. What a very simple and vital message this is for all of us for always!
Maybe Dickens uses the Christmas theme to demonstrate the joy this season naturally brings out in most people in order to show us how hardened Ebenezer's heart truly was; and yet, we can definitely believe that Ebenezer does not remain the same the rest of the year. His heart is surely changed for good because he is a new man.
|"Merry Christmas!" - PJ Lynch|
Ebenezer was so hardened that it was natural for him to believe there were some people who were not worthy of benevolence. Frankly, they - the poor, the destitute, the downtrodden, the infirm and cripple - were not even worthy of living. However, his time with the Ghost of Christmas Present revealed to us that even those with much less were able to enjoy Christmas in their hearts, while he, Scrooge, who had "much more" was unable to have any joy at all.
Sadly, there are stories about children unwanted or rejected today because they will grow up in poverty, have birth defects, or an "untreatable condition." Why are they not worthy of love, hope, opportunity, or life? Why are they not permitted to love and live, too? Maybe those lives are meant to be someone else's opportunity to share joy with or to care for, such as Tiny Tim and his family were to Ebenezer?
Maybe that is why God permits poverty and oppression: because it becomes the testing of those who are able to give to and care for others, just as it was for Ebenezer. Those more fortunate are capable of being the blessings for those less fortunate. That is how God works. It's just a wonder.
And, so, this is also why I love Dickens so much because of the profound truths that he incorporates into his stories. He writes about deeply delicate human issues using highly developed characters, some of whom seem so unreal and yet very believable anyway. He wants the reader to see the entire picture of his characters - every physical feature and every ounce of personality. Probably the name of the character tells you something about that character's personality, too, because Dickens loves to play with words. His composition and style are like a puzzle, and his works are worthy to read.
I should probably make a point to read at least one Dickens a year, so I think I will add Great Expectations to my TBR Challenge for 2014.