From the West Wing

The power of a changed life; that’s what Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” is all about. Most of us have at least heard the story, read the book, seen a movie, or gone to a play production. Here at Fairview, we have put on a production of the story every other year for many years now. Of course, the words “Bah! Humbug!” are always associated with one Ebenezer Scrooge, the title character. As the narrator describes him at the beginning of the story, Scrooge was a tight-fisted, squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Not exactly the adjectives any of us would like to be associated with.

As the story unfolds, Scrooge is visited by four spirits; the first, the spirit of his dead partner Jacob Marley and the other three representations of Christmas past, present and future. As Scrooge remembers some of the goodness of his younger days, particularly the kindness of Mr. Fezziwig, the master he apprenticed under, he begins to compare how he was treated with how he has treated his own apprentice, Bob Cratchet.

The Spirit of Christmas Present continues Scrooge’s “reclamation” by showing him first how Bob Cratchet refuses to speak ill of him and then how his own nephew wishes him well, even when others are not so kind. The Spirit forces him to look squarely at his lonely, miserable life and one can begin to see chinks appearing in the thick armor he has used to protect himself for so many long years.

Scrooge finally comes face to face with his own mortality when the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come shows him what might be. As he faces the wretchedness of his own life, he begins to change. He cries out is desperation “Spirit, hear me” I’m not the man I was. I WILL NOT be the man I was! . . . Good Spirit, assure me that I many yet change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!” He then falls to his knees and states “I know that my meager works cannot save my wretched soul.” Perhaps, for the first time in his life, Scrooge realizes that he can be a better person.

The Fairview production of “A Christmas Carol” ends with the words of the storyteller. He tells us that “Scrooge was better than his word. By the grace of God, his life WAS changed.” I’m not entirely sure that this ending is what Dickens had intended, but I like it. Scrooge himself realizes that he cannot save his soul by works alone and then the storyteller reminds us that it is only the Grace of God that can bring about true change. As we let that thought seep into our very being, may we echo the words of Tiny Tim “God bless us, everyone!”