One of my favorite things to do during Christmas is to watch, read, or listen to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I love to see how Ebenezer Scrooge goes from being the meanest miser in London to being a grateful, generous, and loving man. I love knowing that someone like Scrooge, whose nasty behavior was so egregious, his name became a byword for misanthropy and stinginess, can change. I love knowing that God gives us all the graces we need to turn to Him, if only we’d pay attention.
There are many versions of Dickens’ classic, and while my favorite film version is the 1951 adaptation with Alastair Sim in the title role, a close second is Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol. This animated version, very true to the original, is full of fun songs that make me laugh each year, like “We’re Despicable (Plunderer's March)” and the fun yet truly touching, “The Lord’s Bright Blessing.”
One song that tugs at my heartstrings each year is the melancholy “Alone in the World.” This song perfectly captures the rejection and loneliness that made Scrooge a misanthrope. It breaks my heart every time I hear it, and I cannot listen to the song, or even think about it, without sobbing.
The refrain of the song goes:
A hand for each hand was planned for the world,
Why don’t my fingers reach?
A million grains of sand in the world,
Why such a lonely beach?
Where is a voice to answer mine back?
Where are two shoes that click to my clack?
I’m all alone in the world.
This year, as I wiped away my profuse tears, I had to wonder from whence this angst originated. There must be a festering wound here, I thought, and I invited God into it, to help me heal.
It occurred to me during Mass today that this wound comes from a lie that the enemy has been whispering to me since childhood. A lie that I know he whispers to many during this holy time, and probably has been most especially during this cloud of COVID under which we all live.
The lie is that I am all alone in the world.
Remarkably, I have believed that lie for decades, despite the fact that I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life and my parents are still married and love me. I say this because I know that there are many in in this world who don’t have the love of their parents, who come from broken families, who don’t know the love of God through faith, and who have suffered horrible rejection. I say this to show that, no matter what your life is like, the enemy wants to convince you that you, like young Ebenezer Scrooge, are all alone in the world.
What a lie.
And what a time to try to convince us all of this lie, when it is at Christmas that God shows us, through His Incarnation, how very much He loves us. In fact, God loves us so much, He came down from heaven to be with us on earth!
This is not an indifferent God.
Granted, as I said before, there are many who have truly been rejected or mistreated by those who are supposed to represent the Holy Family in their lives. Mothers and fathers are human and imperfect, and are often broken by those who were broken as well.
Despite this tragedy, God tells us every Christmas,
“See how much I love you? I came to earth to be with you! I came to earth to die for you. I stayed on earth in the Holy Eucharist. I am waiting for you in the tabernacle, every minute of every day.”
I know the hairs on your head.
I knitted you in your mothers womb.
You are precious to me.
You are mine.
All of us reading this have been blessed with the knowledge of God’s love for us, even though it doesn’t always penetrate into our hearts, we’ve heard God’s word and we flock to Him. We’ve all been blessed by this community, which is a vibrant witness of God’s love for us, shared through His body of disciples on earth.
This holiest of seasons, let us make a special effort to reject the lie of the enemy that we are alone in the world, and tell him as we reject him that, unlike him, we will not reject God’s love, and nothing he can do will convince us that we have been rejected by our Heavenly Father.
But let’s go one step further, and spread the love with which God fills us during this holy time. Let us share it with those who have not been blessed with this knowledge or our faith. How alone they must feel.
Let us be the shoes that click to their clack.
Let our hand be the hand that reaches theirs.
Let us remind others, in whatever way we can, that they are not alone in the world.
Let us be the smiling, loving face of God for them.
As for me, whenever I hear this song, I will not allow the enemy to convince me that this is the soundtrack of my life, some kind of warped anthem of loneliness. Instead, I will hear it as a cry from the hearts of my brothers and sisters in Christ. It will be a reminder to me to reach out to them, even if they are today’s Ebenezer Scrooges, even when it’s not Christmas. It will remind me to do whatever I can in my state in life, to bring Christ to their hearts.
I am not alone in the world.
No one is.
*This post was originally posted in the Holy Conversations Group, visible only to members of Apostoli Viae, but is being shared here for the benefit of non-members.
Image: Marley's Ghost, by John Leech, 1843 (public domain)