Its Thanksgiving this week. I think it’s wonderful that we have a holiday dedicated just to being thankful and I like to imagine families and friends all across the country at their dining tables remembering all their blessings and saying thanks on that day. Gratitude is a powerful thing. So is redemption. Often they go hand-in-hand.
I’ve always been a sucker for a good redemption story. Someone who is on the wrong path, at odds with themselves and everyone in their life, has an experience that, for them, is life changing. They might go through something as shattering as a near-death experience, the death of a loved one, serving their country in combat, or surviving a life threatening illness. Often something less traumatic is enough of a catalyst to help a person see the changes they need to make in their lives. The important thing is that the veil is lifted from their eyes and they find a connection with their Spirit that they didn’t have before. Suddenly, everything becomes clear.
I know I’m not alone in my love of redemption stories because many popular movies and books have this type of theme. I think redemption stories give us hope that, as spiritual beings having a human experience here on Earth, we always have a chance to “get it right” and align ourselves with God’s purpose for our lives. All we have to do is wake up and begin to take the steps that lead us to a different path.
One of my all time favorite redemption tales is “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and I have a beautiful cloth-bound edition with color illustrations. When my son was a child I read it to him and it has been a tradition for me to watch it every year on Christmas night with my family ( my favorite version with George C. Scott as Scrooge). Sometimes family members groan a little bit and they might say “Oh, not again” but, once it starts we are all engrossed in the timeless story. I think the timing of this viewing is perfect because it is at the end of a day of abundance when we open many gifts and gorge ourselves on all kinds of culinary treats. The movie serves to remind us of all the blessings we have.
Dickens used the character of Scrooge to illustrate what happens when a man allows gold and material possessions to become his God. He isn’t just miserly with other people; he is also miserly with himself and, as a result, is not even capable of enjoying the wealth he has accumulated. Scrooge has a narrow, selfish and lonely existence until a series of visions come to him in his dreams and show him the error of his ways. These visions were his life changing event and I never tire of the scene when Scrooge awakens to find he is not dead and, in fact, has been given the chance to change his ways. His joy is infectious as he hurries to make amends to those he has treated poorly. He is a different man, one who is filled with laughter and good will – he has been redeemed! As always with Dickens, the story is chock full of symbolism and morality lessons. By the way, Dickens never once implied that the citizens should all pay more taxes so the government could take care of everyone in need or that being rich is a bad thing – the lesson in the story is that generosity, charity, compassion and love are the path to a happier, more spiritual life and a better society in general.