Mr. Scrooge watched the annual Christmas Parade from my front yard this year.
I’m sure it was he. The word humbug never passed his lips, but winter was in his heart and he hated every second of the festive nighttime parade.
I know it was Scrooge, because I saw him in the reflection of the window as I passed by.
I heard him scold the children for their high spirits and for their forgetfulness to wait on the porch until time for the parade to pass by. I actually saw him refuse the request of the sweet little girl who merely wanted to sit on his lap and share the anticipation with him. Halfway through the parade, I was right there with him as he walked away from the happy group on the curb and back into the house.
The Christmas lights glowed warmly in the house, but his thoughts were dark and cold. He sat in a corner of the darkened room and waited impatiently for the cacophony of the sirens and fire engine horns to die away. He wondered if this was what it was to grow old, as he grew angry at the constant clamor outside.
Christmas spirit? Humbug!
Later, after the parade had passed and the children had gone home, he finally allowed himself to consider what was happening to him. I’d like to tell you that I was up to the task of throwing the old grouch out myself, but the truth is he realized that he’d overstayed his welcome all on his own.
“I’m going out for a run.” It was already almost ten o’clock at night, and the inertia of an evening spent in a dark place wasn’t easy to break free from. It had to be done.
She knows that I don’t want to go out in the cold. She also knows how much I need it.
“I’ll keep track of you on my phone.” The GPS tracking program is for my safety as much as for her peace of mind, but I actually think as I head out the door about the fact that she may be able to see where I am physically, but the program can’t show her where I am emotionally.
It doesn’t matter. She already knows.
You see, the White Witch–she from C.S. Lewis’s imagination–has been at work in my spirit for awhile now. It is her intent to make it always winter, and never Christmas there. She has almost succeeded this year. A late-fall ice storm was only the beginning, as adversity piled upon responsibility, and news about an old friend who is slipping away was added to the stew. My mind churned and stirred the events and news together, and before I knew, the past and the present were coloring the future.
It would always be winter. Christmas–true Christmas–would never come.
So, I ran. In the dark. In the cold. And, as I ran, the dark winter in my heart grew stronger. The remaining little piles of snow and ice from the storm last week got in my way as I ran, making parts of the way dangerous. I noticed the debris which unthinking folks had left behind after the parade and my ire increased as I once again remembered my dissatisfaction during the event.
My eyes down, I ran along the street, dodging ice, and cars, and trash.
Dark and cold.
Then it hit me. I was surprised at how quickly the realization dawned.
It’s not so dark out here as I thought! As I ran, at ten o’clock at night, there was a shadow cast on the sidewalk. My eyes turned skyward. The full moon in the sky above produced a light that couldn’t be ignored. The astronomers say that it is the smallest full moon of the year. Tonight, that mattered not at all.
It wasn’t so dark! I had thought it was, but the light shone into the darkness and would not be denied. Somehow, that thought seemed familiar. Now, what was it? Oh never mind–it’ll come to me…
|Crocus in Snow (Photo: Meneerke Bloem)
I ran on, but again a revelation occurred to me. It wasn’t as cold as I had imagined when I left the warmth of my home. True, it had felt cold as I started, but the exertion of burning calories had built up a certain amount of heat and I was actually too warm in the clothes I had selected for my run.
Winter’s not such a big deal! The snow isn’t all gone, but it will give way to the warmth. Winter will always give way to spring. Always.
I am aging, but I’m not yet old. I may never enjoy the horrible tumult of sirens and air horns blaring in a parade, but I will enjoy the antics of children as they anticipate joy. I will hold my granddaughter on my lap and share her enthusiasm for life.
There are yet dreams to be dreamed and goals to be reached. Christmas will
Ah, you say, this doesn’t apply to me; I’m not a runner.
It doesn’t matter. In the still of a quiet room, in the peace of a new dawn, the Child is waiting to be noticed. By grandparents and by college students. By athletes and by couch potatoes. By introverts and by extroverts. He is waiting.
The truth of who our Creator is is demonstrated through His creation and often it takes the silence of solitude for us to see it. His truth won’t be hidden forever in the noise and hubbub of the artificial world we have made for ourselves. We have only to open our eyes and our hearts and He is there.
The light and fervor of the true meaning of Christmas are waiting to be felt and experienced. The dark, cold winter must give way before the brilliance and warmth of the King who came as a baby.
I want to close on an optimistic note; my intention is to encourage and not to distress. But, I know that the witch of winter will come knocking again. It may be soon.
I intend to be out running when she does.
Springtime is just up the road a bit.
“Somewhere in the cold of the first winter, there was an optimist imagining the first spring.”
(Robert Brault ~ American writer)
“As long as the earth remains,
there will be planting and harvest,
cold and heat;
winter and summer,
day and night.”
(Genesis 8:22 ~ CEV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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